A few years ago, we learned that my cousin, Robin, had only one kidney, and it was failing. Robin is only a few years older than me, so you can imagine the reaction. We learned in July of 2007 that no one in Mom’s family matched Robin’s blood type, so there were no donors. Her family had been reaching out to everyone: churches, co-workers, anyone who would listen. We learned that July that my Dad and Robin shared a blood type.
Dad, after learning this, quietly began the process of applying to be a donor, making trips to Chicago for tests and evaluations. Only Mama, my siblings, and I knew he was doing this; we didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up in case it didn’t work out. Finally, near the end of November, he was declared a match and the operation was scheduled for December 10. Robin knew she had a donor; she didn’t know who it was. My parents figured they had to tell their secret, since Dad and Robin would be in the same area of the same hospital in Chicago, and they’d both be quite obviously recovering from major surgery when we were all together at Christmas. They made the trek north one night to tell Robin’s parents and the rest of Mom’s side of the family and, as you can imagine, it was extremely emotional.
On December 10, one of Dad’s kidneys was removed and given to Robin. The surgeon was amazed at the immediate production of the kidney: the surgery was a success. Soon after she awakened, Robin insisted on going to see Dad, so she slowly hauled herself and all of her gear down to Dad’s room, where he was making a much slower recovery. They just held hands and looked at each other and everyone cried and cried. Robin has since made an incredible recovery and is living a full life, as is my dad.
The best part? Dad had Robin’s name in the family Christmas gift exchange. Just like a Hallmark movie.