First Anniversary of Kidney Donation
As I approach the first anniversary of my kidney donation on February 18, 2021, I find myself hard-pressed to reflect. And that’s a GOOD thing: It’s humbling to be able to claim an extraordinarily busy and fulfilling year, personally and professionally. Since my recovery, I haven’t really had a chance (or desire) to slow down, and there’s no end in sight.
Physiologically, my donation hasn’t impacted me hardly at all. Sure, my mass distribution is a little bit different now, but that’s only apparent when I hit the slopes or the climbing gym – and it’s an easy adjustment to get used to. I suck down water like it’s going out of style and everything’s groovy.
But donating has, without a doubt, made waves in other parts of my life.
For one thing, I’m starting to suspect I’ve achieved total job security. How do you lay off someone who donated an organ, to a stranger, for fun? You might be tempted to suggest I’m just a good employee, and I like to think I’m not the WORST, but trust me when I say I’ve pushed the envelope a few times.
I love talking about altruism
… and why it’s a bad word, and how my decision to donate was entirely selfish (because it made me feel good about myself; it’s all about dopamine, the only TRUE currency). Everyone who has the misfortune of knowing me is sick of hearing about it. One of my friends made me a certificate: the graphic design is amateurish, the capitalization is arbitrary, the wording is confusing, and my last name is misspelled. It’s my most treasured award.
I love talking about it so much, in fact, that I submitted an audition story for a documentary about living kidney donation called Abundant. Just the other day, I received an email informing me I’m a semi-finalist! My Zoom interview is on February 1st, and I’m very excited. I suspect not many of the applicants boasted about how purely selfish they are.
I would absolutely donate again.
As a matter of fact, I’ll be starting the vetting process soon to donate a part of my liver. I hear the recovery from that is a fair bit harder than for kidney donation. Bring it on. I’m pretty sure I can’t die. Wait. Has life as an educated, upper-class white male in America skewed my worldview and possibly biased my sense of limitations and ego? Lol. Look at me, questioning myself like some kind of mortal. The silly things I say sometimes…
Advice for those considering donating.
Do it, then brag about it, and enter every room knowing you’re almost certainly the best person there. Write a letter to your recipient, pour your whole self and all your feelings into it, and don’t expect them ever to respond: it’s the process of writing that letter that matters. Much like the act of donating itself, the other person is sort of just a collateral beneficiary. You’re the star of this story.
Also, it helps if you can be all-around privileged from birth and surrounded by love. Take really good care of everything that brings you pleasure. Mind the pits, in plums and all things. Always try your best. You have to do extraordinary things to be extraordinary. Practice bravery in the face of fear daily. Socialize.
Those last bits aren’t specific to kidney donation, but it’s damn good advice anyway. I would know: I’m profoundly wise.
Nolan Schreiber (KDC guest blogger) lives in Aurora, Colorado with his new Ducati Scrambler Café Racer Motorcycle and cat, Bubbo.
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Glenna Frey, APRN-CNS, is a nephrology nurse who donated her kidney in April 2017 to a stranger.
Amanda Frey, M.A., LMFT, LPC, is a Marriage & Family Therapist living with kidney disease.
Together, they co-founded Kidney Donor Conversations in 2018 to provide education about Living Kidney Donation.