This month is National Donate Life Month. I promise, I didn’t schedule it for April, but the timing is perfect. Just yesterday, I gave a speech for a Toastmasters International speech competition about waiting for and recieving a transplant. I promise, I didn’t schedule the date for that round of the competition, either.
This coming Friday, April 6th, will be the 14th anniversary of my kidney/pancreas transplant. I promise, I didn’t schedule that, either, though it would have been nice if I could have. That was one of the points I mentioned in my speech—that you never know when “the call” will come when you’re waiting for a transplant.
I talked about my donor, a young man who died in an auto accident. He’s my hero and I’ll never get to meet him. But, I made an unwritten agreement with him to take care of his kidney and pancreas, to keep them alive. In return, he keeps me alive.
As hard as I tried, the kidney only lasted five years. The speech had to be 5-7 minutes in length, so I didn’t go into that. Nor did I have time to mention the amazing woman who gave me one of hers that same year.
I wanted to get them to sign the back of their license to be an organ donor, but I didn’t want to push my luck.
She’s a devout Catholic. God told her to give me a kidney. Of this, I am certain. For the first few years, I had no idea why. We had never met when she was instructed to do this for me. How’s that for a miracle?
Once I started writing my memoir, a realization came to me. Back when I was going through all those harrowing health issues, I asked over and over, “Why me?” I was never a bully or especially arrogant. Most people would have told you I was too nice to deserve that. About halfway through the first draft of the book, I realized this story had to be told in first person by someone with the ability and desire to tell it.
But, I didn’t think actually talking about it to a room full of people would be part of God’s plan. Wasn’t it enough to write the book, step back, and let people read it? Apparently, it wasn’t.
Now I’m doing exactly what I was meant to do—writing and speaking. Believe me, I’m just as (maybe even more) surprised as anyone. Those who knew me in high school and college can tell you that, aside from being a bit of a smartass, I wasn’t one to draw attention to myself. Everything I’ve been through has toughened me up, even enough to get over stage fright.
Fourteen years after getting a second chance at life, I’m feeling more alive than ever.
Three separate events with a common theme converge in one week—National Donate Life Month, my 14th “re-birthday,” and inspiring a room full of strangers with my story. It’s not coincidence. Of that, I’m certain.