A Special Dad-Daughter Anniversary

Jade and Dad. Photo from Jade Moon

My dad and I celebrated an anniversary the other night. It’s been seven years since “our” transplant – one of my kidneys became his – and life is good. The truth is I’ve never been healthier and Dad, though he has slowed down somewhat because of non-transplant-related issues, is happy and active.

Since 1995, a lot has happened in the Hawaii transplant scene. Most notably, the transplant center at St. Francis, where we both received such excellent care, has shut down. Fortunately for the state, The Queen’s Medical Center has stepped in and is working on filling the void.

Queen’s has been granted licenses to transplant livers and kidneys. It’ll take time for the rest of the program to be implemented. The United Network for Organ Sharing will be issuing licenses organ by organ over a period of weeks or months until the program is complete. After approval by UNOS, the program has to be okayed by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

There is no reason to wait for everything to be completed. There are several ways you can help. Become an organ donor. You can indicate your preference on your driver’s license, and you can make your wishes known to your family.

And, of course, there’s no reason to wait until you die to make a difference in someone’s life. Right now there are about 375 Hawaii folks waiting, hoping and praying for a kidney. My dad and I are proof that living donations work.

If you have been thinking of it, let me ask one thing of you: Do some research.

Talk to the experts. Get facts from everywhere you can, and then make your decision from a place of knowledge. The process leading up to the actual transplant is lengthy and thorough. You don’t just jump in and do it. There are tests, tests and more tests, counseling and ample opportunities to change your mind. By the actual day of surgery you are both ready – more than ready – and it’s a huge relief to finally get it done. And it’s a blessing.

When my kidney was placed into my dad’s body, it took a tiny beat and then flushed with rosy health. In an instant, Dad lost the gray, sickly pallor that was breaking my mother’s heart. His body was no longer his enemy. He felt good again.

In the years since, he and Mom have made the most of their time. They travel. They exercise. They enjoy their family. And every year Dad takes me out to dinner. He and my mother do it to say thank you. They don’t have to say it because I’m just glad I had a chance to show my own gratitude for the gifts they both gave me.

If you have a similar opportunity to give someone a second chance at life, educate yourself to learn if it’s right for you. And if you do go ahead with a living donation I can guarantee one thing: You will never regret it. It will be a bond you both cherish for the rest of your lives.