I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, how do you prepare for what happens when you meet a stranger that has an organ of yours inside of her?
Google was of no help. I had to just wing it.
It had been 8 months since we both went under the knife. My left kidney hopped a plane and flew to Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver, where it made its way into my recipient, Diana.
The morning of the kidney reunion I spent my time hiking at Red Rocks while listening to some Alan Watts talks. I felt peaceful and grounded when I got the call from the media folks at the hospital that a local reporter wanted to cover the story.
I was excited to walk into the hospital knowing that a part of me had arrived there before I did. I mean, that’s a trip when you think about it!
I rushed to get ready and got to the hospital by 1:30 in the afternoon, a little early for the 2pm meeting. I felt incredibly calm as the wonderful folks from the hospital ushered me to a conference room where they wanted to keep me basically quarantined until the official meeting. They joked that it was like trying to keep a groom and bride apart before a wedding!
It was an odd feeling, knowing that Diana and her husband were in the room right next to me. I wasn’t nervous at all, just… curious.
The reporter Dillon Thomas did a great job interviewing me. It only took a few minutes and I was really comfortable.
About 15 minutes later I was led to the room. THE room. The room where my recipient and her friends and family were waiting….. and probably 25 folks from the hospital and transplant staff!
It was a bit overwhelming walking into that room and seeing SO many people there watching, a tv camera pointed at me, and a media person taking pictures! In that second I knew I had to 100% focus on my recipient or I’d get completely flustered. I gently reminded myself this day is about her. Her health, her new life, her happiness.
After the warm hugs with Diana and her wonderful husband we settled in and started talking. I angled my chair directly at her so I didn’t pay attention to the 30+ other attentive faces in the room.
Hearing her story firsthand was wonderful – I got to know her story, her journey with her illness, and hear more about her life in Colorado. She had this amazing warmth to her, and she just radiated. Diana could have lit up the room that day, and the same goes to her husband.
I felt incredibly appreciative during all this, but not emotional. I guess part of that has to do with why I chose to donate to a stranger – I wanted the separation. I’m not comfortable receiving the gratitude that comes with saving a person’s life. I just want to do my part and let them live their own life the way they want. But I knew it was important to Diana that she get to meet me, and say thank you.
I feel like this allowed her to close the chapter, and the same goes for me. It has all come full circle now, and we can both start to write our next chapters.
I wish I could say that it was a super powerful thing where we felt like we’ve known each other all our lives and were finishing each other’s sentences… but it wasn’t like that. It was just… warm I guess. And lovely. Warm and lovely.