From Fear To Elation: Prepping To Be An Organ Donor

Jeff Moyer is a writer, musician and disability advocate in Cleveland.

hide captionJeff Moyer is a writer, musician and disability advocate in Cleveland.

Courtesy of Jeff Moyer

The group e-mail arrived in January. It was a plea from a close friend for his adult daughter, Julie, who needed a kidney. She had just gone onto the recipients' list.

I was gripped by a terrible dilemma. Julie's blood type was my own. If I volunteered and was accepted, I could save this woman's life. I could spare her friends and family the sorrow of losing her.

But I didn't want to go through the transplant surgery. I was afraid of the pain, of the loss of control. I began turning over every rock, looking for a valid reason not to offer.

Much to my relief, a local transplant center told me that, at 61, I was a marginal candidate. But then Julie's transplant center said I wasn't marginal at all.

So I signed up. Deep inside, a part of me hoped I would flunk out and a perfect, younger donor would be found. But the few other candidates didn't pass medical muster.

I was deemed a blood match, and I went through a series of rigorous medical evaluations. One doctor demanded a nuclear stress test to prove my heart could be shocked back to life if it stopped during surgery. A social worker questioned my motivation.

Challenged at every turn, I found myself wanting to overcome these obstacles and be selected as the donor. More importantly, I stopped thinking just about myself. I began to empathize with Julie.

And instead of flunking out, I passed all the tests with flying colors. The day I got the news that I was accepted, I was genuinely elated.

So, very soon, after our final medical exams and last-minute blood matching tests, I will play my part in this remarkable sharing of a human resource.

Since I received that group e-mail last winter, Julie and I have become friends. I live knowing that she is weakening, and that the surgery will return her strength. I have found a new courage and steel, maybe for both of us. Now, together, we wait.

Jeff Moyer is a writer, musician and disability advocate in Cleveland.

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