The purpose of this post is to emphasize directness, so the title is direct and I will be direct in my writing. This kidney donation/transplant would not have happened if the need for it was not expressed and publicized. How many people need a kidney transplant and might get a kidney from a living donor like me, if they just knew how to ask? This might be the most valuable lesson that Dustin and I can put forth to others. YOU HAVE TO ASK, and you have to CAST THE NET WIDE to increase the chances of finding someone who can answer.
I’ve described the components of my decision before – I was “pre-willing” from my brother’s nephrologist knowledge. I was aware of Dustin’s situation through our community and friends. I was inspired story from Leilani on my local news on January 3rd. But what came next to actually cause me to act that day? Right after watching the story, I thought, “I know of someone who needs a kidney. What is the status with Dustin? I’ll check the Support page.” And there on the page, posted just 4 days earlier, was this post from Beth, the Support Page coordinator:
“The followers of this page have been incredibly supportive of Dustin and Kenzie with contributions of time and money to help them and their potential donor. Those efforts are greatly appreciated! With a solid financial base established, what they need now is a kidney donor. That is the blunt fact of it all.....they need a kidney donor. Please consider being a donor. Reach out with questions or ideas on how to raise awareness for this need. Some things truly do take a village, and this is one of those things. We need your help in raising awareness and to help us find a donor. Message me directly on Facebook as the administrator of this page (Beth) if you have any ideas for finding Dustin a donor. Thank you in advance!!”
It hit me hard. The direct statement put me in the immediate and undeniable state of “Someone needs something, and I can provide it.” As I described in a past blog post, this was my driving force through everything. Through any hesitation of contacting people I didn’t know to do something so personal. Through the difficult steps of telling the people close to me what I wanted to do. Through the initial screening processes and wickets we had to navigate. Through the agonizing waiting periods. Through being evaluated, tested, judged, assessed, poked, prodded, scanned, discussed, and examined. Through the considerable work needed to rearrange my life to accommodate the trips and surgery. Because when you know someone needs a specific thing and you see clearly that you are the one who can do it, you will find something inside of you that enables you to move mountains. I can tell you this because I felt it.
So what are the lessons for someone who needs to ask for something so big? Set the stage and share your story to increase awareness. Build your support base. Build a support team. Let people share your journey. And then, ASK DIRECTLY for what you want – through a third party is a nice way to do it, but someone needs to make it clear what is needed. Cast the net wide. You never know what “stranger” may be out there, and hear the call.
Ask directly for what you need, and the world may surprise you with its response.
Yesterday I spent the day with Beth, and it was a really special day. I'd like to write more about that, but really the lesson above is the most important thing to share here. Beth was with us through the whole journey -- a cheerleader, a guide, a balancing perspective -- and spending time together yesterday was really important to me. In our talks while walking and eating and driving, we revisited some of the milestones of these past 6 months and I realized how important that one was, and what an important lesson it holds for others. There may be others, for anyone visiting this and taking Dustin and I up on the offer to help you on your own journey -- and we can both tell you that Beth did everything right, and was a critical team member in the whole effort! Get a social media champion like Beth on your side!
Anna Cannington has offered to be part of this program. As a kidney donor with a nephrologist brother (not to mention next level human) she will be able to provide unique insight into "other side" of the transplant process. It is particularly apt for her to join up as she is Dustin's Donor. To schedule a conversation with either of Anna or Dustin just connect with either of us!
Dustin was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy (Berger's Disease) in early 2007. He and his family know well the struggles that come with suffering kidney failure, dialysis and the transplant processes. Born from these fustrations and Dustin's love of strengths-based coaching (centered on what is best in people) comes the Kidney Koach program. This NO FEE program is for Renal patients, their families and nursing staff that want support, understanding and a little help on the path.