This post is about the importance of finding at least 1 new friend with whom you can share your transplant journey. It wasn’t something that I understood was important until I accidentally found myself with 2 online girlfriends- Kate Griggs and Rebecca O’Marrah. We met online and will all have donated an organ (Kate and I kidneys, and Rebecca her liver) inside a 10 week period this year. Kate’s donation was 9/29, mine was 11/22, and Rebecca’s is…….TOMORROW! This is Kate on the left, and Rebecca and her family on the right (she is on the far left).
In my experience, the best place to find your online girlfriend is the ALODF Donor Support Group on Facebook and the Living Kidney Donor’s Page. Both are closed Facebook groups for living donors only, and is a great place to talk freely about whatever is on your mind related to being a living donor whether you are thinking about doing it, in the process of doing it, or already did it. It’s a great resource, and I haven’t found anything out there like it yet in terms of connecting with other living donors. You are bound to find someone else who is in a similar place on their transplant journey as you are. Get their phone number- these friends are different than your other friends and will be an invaluable part of your journey!
In the spirit of celebrating new friendships, I would like to give the hugest shout out in the world to Rebecca O’Marrah. She is donating half of her liver TOMORROW to Kelley Drey, her friend from high school. She knew her original surgery date before I knew mine, so I figured I would be the last in our trio to get to donate. Then I got a call from NM that they found a match for my kidney, and I ended up beating her to the OR! Since then, her surgery date has been changed twice! It’s been a twisty turney road, and I haven’t heard her once complain about it. EVER. She is in Chicago from out of state with her husband and kids, and will be here at least 2 weeks post surgery before she can go home. It’s a pretty major commitment, and she is doing it without the comfort of her own home. Her recovery will be a lot different than mine and Kate’s. It’s a longer more complicated surgery, and the recovery is not as fast (I hear it flat out sucks). She is a brave woman, and I couldn’t be more proud of what she is doing, and how she is doing it. The world would be a better place if we had more Rebeccas!
Kate and Rebecca- I am so glad that our paths have crossed. I value our friendships and have learned so much from both of you in the past few months. I love the excitement, passion, and energy you have for donating your parts. I admire your willingness to be vulnerable, and risk emotional exposure (you have been models for me here). I admire your deep sense of compassion for others. You are very special humans, and I am proud to be your friend. It warms my heart that it’s only just begun, we have so many milestones to celebrate still!
Best of luck tomorrow Rebecca! You will do great! We are so incredibly proud of you!
12/20/16: Update on Rebecca, she and her recipient Kelly are both thriving, and she is on a plane home today to finish up her recovery! Fun fact about liver donors- it takes about 3,000 extra calories a day to regenerate your liver. Rebecca has strict instructions to have as many milkshakes as possible for at least 2 months to unsure she is getting enough calories to regenerate her liver which miraculously is designed to grow back to it’s normal size in 6 months. Kidney donors don’t get to do that, so I guess this is added reward for the liver donors, as their surgeries are harder to bounce back from.