I’m so pleased to host Amy Clipston today as she shares her story about being an organ donor.
On June 14, 2011, I donated a kidney to a stranger in order to help my husband, Joe, receive a second kidney transplant. I became a kidney donor through a leap of faith. I felt that God had chosen me to be a donor since I’ve always enjoyed good health and have a common blood type.
Kidney disease has been a black cloud over our lives since Joe was diagnosed in 2000. He spent a year on dialysis before receiving his first kidney transplant from his brother in 2004. Unfortunately, his first transplanted kidney only lasted four years, and Joe went back on dialysis in July 2008. Since he had rejected a kidney, he was a difficult match. My donating a kidney was his best chance of receiving one from a matching donor.
My kidney recipient, who was a stranger before the surgery, is now my dear friend. Once she received my kidney, it immediately began to work in her body. I met her for the first time a few days after the transplant, and it was one of the most emotional experiences in my life. We hugged and thanked each other. Just as my kidney worked for her, her husband’s kidney immediately began to work in Joe’s body.
Becoming a kidney donor was a natural choice for me. Watching my husband suffer with an illness was heartbreaking, and I sobbed the day I found out I couldn’t be his donor. I’m honored and humbled that I could help a family who had suffered like ours, and I never thought twice about my decision, despite negative comments I often heard.
Joe’s illness was also difficult for our boys, who are 11 and 6. There were days when Joe was too ill to spend time with them. We couldn’t plan vacations, since coordinating dialysis out of town is complicated, and as Joe would say, it wouldn’t be fun for him to be sick in the hotel room. However, now that Joe is well, I notice that my boys smile more, which warms my heart. Aside from the emotional toll of Joe’s illness, we also suffered from financial worries. Since Joe was only well enough to work part-time, I carried the financial burden by working full-time and also writing Christian fiction.
Before June 14, I had never undergone a serious surgery, and I was nervous. However, I knew in my heart that I was meant to be a donor for Joe. Many people were counting on me — my kidney recipient, Joe, and my children, who missed seeing their daddy healthy. The most exhilarating moment for me was when I spoke to my 6-year-old on the phone after the surgery, and without any prompting he said, “Mommy, I’m proud of you.”
It seems appropriate that our kidney transplant took place on June 14, which was seven days after Joe turned 40 and six days before our 13th wedding anniversary. Through the transplant, Joe and I began a new life together, a chapter in our relationship. I’m so very glad I took that leap of faith. I’m so very thankful that God called me to donate a kidney. I saved two lives — my husband’s life and my recipient’s life.
Amy Clipston is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery novels. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and currently works for the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Amy lives with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled-rotten cats. Visit her on the web at http://www.amyclipston.com/.