I am a huge proponent of being an organ donor. I have no use for my body after I am gone please use any of it to save someone else’s life. ANY OF IT! Eyeballs – heart whatever. Take it. Not going to need it anymore.
A while ago a former business partner of my father’s came back into my life via Facebook. I have vague memories of him from when I lived in New Jersey for two reasons – 1. He was very patient with me as a four/five year old and 2. His last name is Pugaczewski – hard to forget someone with that last name.
I found out through FB that his wife was in need of a kidney. They were looking for a living donor. Pleading with people to just get tested to even see if they were a match. I thought about it. I prayed about it. Don’t know why the idea was so unnerving. But I decide I could do it. I would see if I was a match. I mean we have two kidneys – I don’t need both.
I went to Chad to talk about it and was surprised at how adamant he was that I NOT do it. His reasoning was fair. Zachary only has one kidney. He was born with a multicystic kidney so it never functioned and at this point in his life it has been reabsorbed by his body. It was a fluke that we even caught it. I was considered a high risk pregnancy based on a previous miscarriage so I was going for sonograms all the time. The OB was concerned with Z’s head but it turned out his head is great – it was his kidney. I freaked at the time hearing the news. But it turns out we really don’t need two kidneys – one works just fine. And we only use a small percentage of the one anyway. Z’s urologist said that while we needed to be smart, like probably avoiding contact sports like football and boxing where he is more likely to injure his one good kidney, but we did not need to make him spend his life indoors not participating.
Chad asked what if something happens to Z’s kidney and HE needs a transplant? Family will be the closest match. I talked to my Dad about it and he was the exact same way. I was surprised by both of their reactions. I completely understand it but surprised.
I found myself wondering if they would have reacted the same way with a different living transplant - liver transplant (where they can take a partial sample) or bone marrow transplant. Or if it had been someone we were really close to – family or friend – rather than a distant acquaintance for my dad or complete stranger to Chad.
I then went to this place: what if I am not a match for Z and neither is anyone in our family but we find ourselves in a place where he needs a kidney? We become the ones on Facebook desperately reaching out to the cyber world for someone to just get tested. Just see if you are even a match. Watching our son’s life hang on the chance of someone willing to step up. How can I expect someone to be braver than me? How can I rely on people to save my son if I am not capable of doing it for someone else?
I fully support and understand Chad’s feelings on Carolyn’s situation and do not disagree with his reasoning. This post isn’t about that decision in particular. It is more about talking the talk and walking the walk when it comes to helping people. Or even “paying it forward” karma like. I believe in karma to the extent that you get what you put out there – if you are a good and generous person, you will have a good life. Not because you earn points but because you face life with a good attitude. I love the stories about people who come out of the blue from the most unexpected places and change lives with their selflessness. Who give of themselves because it is the good and decent thing to do and it helps someone that really needs it.
For the past several Lents, I have wanted us as a family to pick a volunteer opportunity to do together. I had used the excuse they Ry was too young to truly have a part but she is now 7 - plenty old enough to help out at some places. But we haven't done anything. We are too busy. We are too tired. Nothing is convenient.
We, the Martin family, have too much to offer to not help. So while I am not saying we are all donating organs this year, I hope that we do step it up and get out, get involved, and make a difference. I hope that at Easter Mass this year I am proud of our Lenten devotion. And that God forbid there comes a time where Z needs a kidney or something tragic hits our family, I want to know that I am not asking of others what I would not myself do.
Epilogue: Carolyn Pugaczewski did receive a kidney and is doing well thanks to a living donor. Z plays soccer and karate. Karate is different than boxing right? So much for avoiding full contact sports.