Empty Chairs, Empty Nests, & Living Kidney Donors

Baby Birds in Nest

Life Connection of Ohio organizes an annual event, Sit in the Green Chair: 24 Hour ‘Donate For Life’ Sit-In at WTOL 11 in Toledo, Ohio, in honor of National Donate Life Month in April. I had the honor to sit in the chair during that event for the first time this year.

This is the explanation of the Green Chair on their website www.lifeconnection.org.

Life Connection of Ohio is touring the Green Chair around northwest and west central Ohio to raise awareness about organ, eye, and tissue donation. Why a Green Chair? When it’s empty, the chair represents the overwhelming sadness from the loss of someone who was waiting for an organ transplant that didn’t come in time. But when someone is sitting in the chair, it showcases a recipient’s second chance at life. The tagline of the Green Chair Campaign is “Don’t let another chair go empty” because encouraging more people to register as donors means there will be fewer empty chairs.

Sometimes the empty Green Chair makes me sad.

This spring, robins built a nest on the eavestrough on our house and I was able to watch this beautiful nature scene from my dinette window. The eggs hatched, the tiny bare-skinned babies grew, parents fed their cheeping open beaks.

Mother feeding her babies

They flourished, their newly developed wings flapped as they practiced flying. A sundry of chirping greeted us each morning.

Suddenly one day the nest was quiet and empty. Later that day, the mother sat on the side of the nest with food in her mouth, but no babies to feed.

I felt a maternal sad connection to her and her empty nest. The empty nest reminds me of the empty Green Chair.

Empty Nest

People on the kidney transplant list wait 5-10 years to get a kidney. Most of them will die waiting.

As a living kidney donor, I could only help one person live a better, longer life. Maybe my recipient got to sit in his chair at home a little longer than if I had not donated my kidney.

Maybe discovering more Living Kidney Donors can decrease some of the sadness?

Glenna Frey, APRN-CNS, is a nephrology nurse who donated her left kidney in April 2017 (nondirected). She and daughter Amanda Frey co-founded Kidney Donor Conversations in 2018 to increase awareness of Living Kidney Donation.

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