I have a kidney disease. It’s pretty rare but thankfully not the kind that will land me on dialysis or a transplant list. In other words, it’s totally manageable with medication, diet and lifestyle (thank goodness I do what I do).
Consider me idiopathic—meaning that I am the kinda gal who gets things with no known cause. So in the arduous years of more acute symptoms and jumping from doctor to doctor to figure out what the heck was going on, I had the “pleasure” of getting an appointment with one of New York Magazine’s Best Doctors naively thinking that if he is on the list then he’s sure to be great!
He was my third kidney doc (no one could give me answers). Despite being tired and frustrated, I remained incredibly hopeful that he would be able to finally give me some insight—he came highly recommended! I eagerly awaited the appointment already feeling some sense of relief before stepping foot in his office.
After the customary medical intake; a physical exam; and reviewing my notebook with a detailed summary of my history, years of lab results and imaging reports, he had this to say (with a clinically stone face), “Well Stefanie, I don’t know what to tell you. You have some type of cystic kidney disease and there is a 50 percent chance that you will lose your kidneys.”
Number one—what the heck happened to bedside manner? And number two—what does that mean? I left his office in despair. No answers, just more questions. A few days post appointment my dear friend (who lives with Cystic Fibrosis) called to see how things went. I shared the news and he had this to say, “Stef, if you need a kidney, then I will give you one.” Funny, cause if there is anyone who can’t afford to lose an organ, it’s him!
But the mere fact that he offered not only touched me but also forced me to think about organ donation in a different light. It didn’t have to be about those seemingly grim transplant lists. It could be about living donation. What a beautiful thought. So, if this “Best Doctor” was correct and I would in fact need a new “bean” someday, there were options!
In 2011 I was finally diagnosed with a very manageable kidney disease. And by a doctor who was not one of New York Magazine’s Best Doctor’s (but should be). As a side note—“Best Doctor” really doesn’t mean anything!
The conclusion to this tale is that if my friend with Cystic Fibrosis ever needed an organ (other than one of my funky kidneys), I would be the first in line to donate. And if anyone else I loved (or perhaps even someone I didn’t) needed some flesh, I would surely consider. Living donation could be the better alternative for many and could change you, the potential donor’s life forever for the positive—random (and not so random) acts of kindness are lifetime game changers!