I once worked with an older actress who schooled me to enjoy Life’s little moments, “Because there aren’t that many big ones.”
Well, this moment was one of the biggest: When we found out Kevin was a match to give me a kidney.
January 20th, 2010. In this photo, I was in chronic kidney transplant rejection. At about 11% kidney function and 6 weeks away from dialysis.
Today is World Kidney Day. If you have 2 healthy kidneys, it is worth noting what your precious fist-sized babies do. Kidneys filter your blood of waste and extra fluid, and make from 1-2 quarts of urine daily. They balance the PH levels in your blood. Make an active form of Vitamin D to keep your bones healthy. They control your blood pressure. And they make red blood cells to give you the energy you need to enjoy your life.
Really, what don’t they do except park your car!? (I know. Not my best work.)
It’s been 30 years since my kidneys completely failed. It is only because of living donors like my Mum (at age 19) and my beloved Kevin (at age 42) that I have enjoyed life beyond dialysis. And that is no life at all.
Each person can live a long and healthy life on one kidney. On World Kidney Day, consider that you are walking around with a spare part inside of you. An “extra.” A second kidney that can save someone’s life. Someone like me who was randomly struck ill as a 13 year-old girl with an unidentified virus.
Kidney transplantation often pops up as a cringe-worthy punch line on sitcoms. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is not a quick fix. It is lifelong work to lead a healthy life (Damn you skin!). But even after all this time, I still stare slack-jawed at the twice-daily handful of pills that suppress my immune system-so my body will accept Kevin’s gift. Truly a medical miracle.
Cherish your kidneys. Eat well, whole foods, not processed. Drink tons of water. Exercise. Check your blood pressure regularly. Pray. Meditate. Maybe take that “little moment” to look into living donation. It could lead to the “big moment” that will truly change someone’s life forever. And yours.