11 Years Strong

I looked over at Noah and asked, “Do you want to know if it is a boy or a girl?” The ultrasound technician and Noah and I giggled, as we were well aware that was not why I was getting an ultrasound. Noah and I smiled at each other and held hands as the ultrasound tech put the cold gel on my stomach and began to perform the test. She was taking snapshots of my pancreas to see if we could get answers as to why my lipase, a pancreatic enzyme, is elevated. As I looked at sweet Noah, I couldn’t help but wish the test was being done because I was pregnant rather than dealing with another health issue.

We started to talk about my one-and-only precious kidney and how well my transplant is doing despite everything else my body is enduring. Then the ultrasound tech said, “There it is.” Noah and I both instantly looked at the monitor and our eyes and attention were fixated on the screen as we saw my beautiful kidney filtering blood like a trouper. I said, “I wish I had my phone so I could take a picture.” Before I knew it, the technician handed me a picture of my beautiful little gem. I was delighted! It looked just like an ultrasound picture when one is pregnant, but it was my kidney. I was happy as could be. I commented how I could not wait to show my kidney donor, Sally, and then she handed me a second copy of the image so I could give one to Sally. This scary time of uncertainty turned into a fun ultrasound experience. That is how Noah and I deal with my health hurdles; we keep our humor and spirit strong.

It is a remarkable experience to have a living donor that is a close friend because it enables me to share special moments with Sally, my kidney donor. I sent Sally the picture and her response filled my heart with such joy. Part of her message said,

I wanted to thank you so much for the precious surprise of the ultrasound image…how thoughtful of them and you to do that!It makes me happy every day to know your kidney is still functioning for you as it should be, and you are a major part of the reason it is! I am very proud of you and admire how you take care of your dear tiny body, in the midst of so many obstacles that would have leveled or defeated most people long ago. You truly are an Amazing and Beautiful young woman of great character and strength! I count it a privilege to have this precious and unique connection to you!
I love you and miss you and I am praying for your continued strength!
Your special friend forever,
XOXO – Sally

There are no words to describe how special Sally is. When you are in her presence, you feel something incredible. When she hugs me, it is like a set of angel wings being wrapped around me. She is like no other. The connection we have is indescribable, but I hope the appreciation I have for her is evident by how I live my life. In five days, Sally and I will reach an amazing milestone as we celebrate our 11-year transplant anniversary. Her gift is something that I have never seen; never touched but have felt the impact of it more than anything else. It is miraculous that I literally carry a piece of Sally with me every day, and that missing piece is what I needed—and still need–to survive. Our little “bean” has seen more, lived more, traveled more, and experienced more than I ever dreamed it would. This is the beauty of the gift of life.

I was gravely sick at 19 years old, waiting to receive the gift of a lifetime. If I had to think of 11 things I wished for back then, they would be: see the stress and sadness on my parents’ faces fade away; make Sally proud of the decision she was about to make to donate her kidney; be able to see my parents happy and enjoying life once again; make my parents proud; marry a man that loves me for me; travel; feel healthy enough to lead an active life; have the energy to work; learn what hobbies I’d like because being sick was my full-time hobby; find my passion and path in life; and make a difference in the world.Thanks to Sally’s selfless gift, all of these wishes have come true.

Sally, here’s to many, many, many more years with our little bean! I love you with all my heart, Sally!!!


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