Sometimes a loss is your greatest gain. On November 8, 2012 with God at my side and my family’s support, I donated my left kidney to a man I’d only met for a couple of hours. My story was written before I was conceived and because of it, I was designed with someone else in mind. I strongly believe that there is a power greater than ourselves who orchestrated our bodies and our lives. That higher power is God for me. (And, I wasn’t always a believer.)
2010 proved to be the most terrible and terrific year. That year I was hospitalized four times and was in the emergency room on two separate occasions. My health had taken an evil spin and after running the London marathon that year. My doctor performed an emergency hysterectomy and removed most of the organs that define us as women. Shortly after that surgery I traveled to Costa Rica - a promise I made to my daughters. The logical and practical side of me thought I should skip it, but I remember an intense feeling and gravitational pull towards taking this trip. It’s difficult to explain the intensity of this feeling. I felt there was something I needed to see and experience.
During our trip we had an unusual encounter with marine life. The girls and I had randomly chosen the most affordable snorkeling excursion. That day we came across turtles the size of a large 18-wheeler tires mating in the ocean! It was a rare encounter for three city girls and found out later that it was also a first for the locals traveling with us. We decided to head back when suddenly the most magical thing appears before our eyes: a whale tail was half out of the water within a short distance. Without a word, we all agreed to abandon our return and follow the whales. You see – it was mating season – and we were in for a show. We found a school of whales that were trying to impress a mate.
I abandoned my logical and practical side and became a ten-year old instantly. I urged our leaders to get closer and what I witnessed brought tears to my soul. These enormous creatures were being cordial and loving with each other and also with us. They let us in on their mating ritual. They danced (metaphorically speaking) and made a spectacle of themselves. Our small boat suddenly felt like an ice chest floating in the ocean. The whales started picking up their speed so we respectfully left their playground so they could carry out their mission. Hump back whales are enormous creatures and their force should not be reckoned with. That evening I understood why I felt a gravitational pull before our trip.
God wanted me to experience raw love. If the whales were worthy to receive love, then so was I.
I returned to Houston. My body was still assaulting me so my physician decided I need more reproductive surgery. A few days after I was released from the last hospital stay, I returned to my office only to be given a “pink slip”. I was a single mother and now unemployed. How was I going to support my two children? What about health insurance? I returned home and broke the news to my daughters that afternoon. We all cried. I felt abandoned. I felt God didn’t know or care about us.
I didn’t have time to react or to dwell on my feelings. I had to respond. The two little faces I sent off to school each morning were my drive. I started searching the market while feeling dead and angry. My supervisor was a bully and I endured years of torment. When I took time to take care of my health - she “took care of me”. That turned out to be a blessing. God did for me what I couldn’t do for myself. He terminated a toxic relationship with that employer and placed me where I am today.
Not long into my search I received an offer. I didn’t feel “attracted” to the job but I felt that gravitational pull again. I decided I would work on my fear and anger later. I had mouths to feed. Time passed and my employer came to me and asked that I travel to Puerto Rico to mend a broken business relationship. I had lot going on at the time and honestly didn’t have time for the trip. But I wanted to show my committment to the job AND for the third time in my life, felt a pull towards the trip.
In April of 2012, I touched ground in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Little did I know what God had in store for me.
I met Javier for a couple of hours at his place of business. I thought him to be a very attractive and kind man. I returned to Houston and had an email waiting from him. In it he said he enjoyed meeting me and expressed a desire to meet again. That email started a friendship. I asked him when he would travel to Houston. Javier ignored my question and danced around it. I let it go and we continued to get to know one another.
One day out of the blue I received an email from Be The Match Marrow Registry. You see, after my father died a very painful and slow death at a young age of 66, his body could no longer fight the wretched disease of Alzheimer's and gave up. Where medicine couldn’t help us, I was determined to make a difference in someone else’s life. If I could help it, I would prevent them from going through what we endured so I signed up to be a bone marrow donor.
When that email came, I wasn’t expecting it and immediately shared the news with Javier. I was afraid to open it. Could I possibly be someone’s match? It turns out the email was not about a match but staying current on addresses.
But that little bitty email sparked a conversation.
I found out then that Javier could not travel to Houston because he was terminally ill. He had end renal stage disease and was fighting for his life. He was hooked up to a dialysis machine three times a week. He was afraid to tell me. Here I was full of life and living every second of it and he was hanging on by a thread. He felt impotent next to me yet wanted so much to get to know me.
I was in shock and unwilling to accept the truth. The man who had suddenly become my friend was quickly dying. I refused to accept it and immediately offered up a kidney. Javier didn’t want to “take” anything from me. He wanted to give me the world. We found out in August of that same year that we were compatible... a 50/50 match. (Half of our antigens were exact - a rare find especially for two individuals who lived thousands of miles apart.)
On November 8, 2012, I "lost" a kidney and found the true meaning of life. God was always with me. In those horrendous days, it was He who was pulling me closer to Him and guiding me towards Javier. It wasn't the relationship that needed fixing, nor Javier, but me who needed healing.
Javier and I married on November 26, 2013. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I am not alone. I learned that not only does God know me personally, he also loves me. God created me (and us) and my (our) story long before I (we) ever set foot on this earth.
When you feel that pull...it's God guiding you. What are you waiting for?
Editor's Comment: For more information about organ donation, visit this site.