My Story

If a wimp like me could donate a kidney, you probably can, too.

Being a living donor isn’t for everyone. It’s a big decision. But if being a wimp is what’s stopping YOU from donating, I hope you’ll find my story encouraging. I’m a professional writer/editor, and in recent years I’ve been writing about my own experience and the living donation process in op-eds, online magazines [most recently South Writ Large], and blogs. My hope is that my story will resonate with anyone, wimp or not, who’s ever toyed with the idea but was hesitant.

If my school yearbook had had a “Least Likely to Be a Living Kidney Donor” category, that would’ve been me. A lifelong wimp, I’ve even fainted at flu shots. So the short answer to “Why did a wimp become a kidney donor?” is simple: my son’s kidneys were failing, and I was the only one who stepped forward who could.

But that might have been the end of the story—and you wouldn’t be reading this—if the experience hadn’t been (1) far easier than I feared, (2) even more gratifying than I expected (beyond the obvious benefits to my son), and (3) worth shouting about. When I was contemplating donating my kidney, I knew no one who’d donated and there was no place to ask the seemingly silly questions (I know now that when it comes to organ donation, there are no silly questions).

That’s why I want to help kidney donors and would-be donors by sharing my experience here along with candid, accurate information; by debunking myths; and providing resources. I’m also writing a book that does all that and more, The Greatest Gift: The Insider’s Guide to Living Kidney Donation. My co-author, Betsy Crais, is a living-donor kidney recipient, so our book will also have much-needed nontechnical guidance for kidney patients considering or dealing with a transplant, from medical information to the impact on family relationships. Patient or donor, it’s critical to consider all the issues and be well informed. Information is power–never more so than in matters of health.

Contact me at carol.kidneydonorhelp@gmail.com

Pictured above: Living Donors rally at “the Bean” in Chicago: Guinness World Record for largest gathering of living donors, April 21, 2018. Photo by John Martin Photography, Detroit.