Who's Your Daddy

A truly heroic gift

This issue of QSaltLake is full of great holiday gift ideas. But Kelly has already given me a gift to last a lifetime. In fact he’s given it to my entire family. Kelly donated a kidney to my big brother, John.

Like most siblings growing up, John and I had a love/hate relationship.  Being five years older than I, he tortured me pretty regularly. But he was also a constant source of knowledge for me.

It was John, after all, who taught me to sneak out our bedroom window when I was banished there for misbehaving. I tried it exactly once. As I was dangling half way out the window, our dad’s hand planted on my butt and shoved  me back in. (John was busted as the obvious mastermind behind my escape plan, by the way.) He also taught me how to dance – or to shift my weight from one foot to the other doing the straight boy shuffle. And he taught me to drive a stick, throwing me out of his car after I popped the clutch for the third time on a slight hill on 9600 South.

Just over 20 years ago, John was diagnosed with diabetes. It runs in our family. In spite of all the medical advancements and the happy commercials heralding medications to easily manage it, diabetes kicks the crap out of your body. A couple of years ago, John’s kidneys started shutting down, and this past January he began dialysis. Our entire family was overjoyed when we learned he was placed on the kidney transplant list earlier this summer.

Forgetting it would take me a good 10 years to relearn how to dance with rhythm, I immediately volunteered one of my kidneys. I mean, it’s just a kidney; it’s not like my liver, which I’m still pickling! But my propensity for developing diabetes down the road was too great, and I was eliminated.

With no other family members eligible or able, Kelly stepped up. He did it for John, and he did it out of love for me. Honesty, I don’t think anyone thought he’d be a match. But he was. He was a really good match.

On November 3they had the surgery.  It was a tremendous success. They’re now referring to one another as “Kidney Brothers.”  The difference for John has been night and day. There’s still a long road of healing ahead – for both of them – but the doctors are amazed at just how well the kidney is working.

The number of people, who have mentioned what a tremendously generous act Kelly has committed, is endless. But it didn’t surprise me in the least. He’s probably the most compassionate, loving and generous person I’ve ever known. I’ve seen it in the way he treats me, and I’ve seen it in the way he treats our sons.

The boys don’t quite realize it, but Kelly is a hero. He saved my brother’s life. Every single member of my family will be forever grateful for his altruistic act. I will forever marvel at his love for me that sparked his decision. Of course, for the rest of my life, I’m also going to hear how he can’t fold laundry, eat at my favorite restaurant, or let me have the TV remote because he only has one kidney, after all.

This holiday season, be a hero like Kelly. Give the gift of life by becoming an organ donor. Believe me, it’s the best gift you will ever give.

You can find more information and sign up to be a donor at http://www.organdonor.gov/index.html.

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