Living Donor Rally

You’ve already heard (and seen pix) about the living donor rally I attended this weekend in Chicago. But I’ve been eager to share some observations while they’re still fresh because it was truly the most encouraging, life-affirming experience I’ve had in years.

For 3 wonderful days I was surrounded by hundreds of people–on Saturday more than 1200–I’d never met before, but with whom I felt an incredible bond. We were from all different parts of the country (a few from Canada and one family from India), backgrounds, ethnicities, ages (many 20-30 yrs younger than me), genders, and political views. I’m guessing about the last one because politics NEVER came up. Yup, for 3 days politics did not come up–I don’t mean I avoided it, I mean it just didn’t come up, it was irrelevant.

We laughed together, teared up a lot (for both sad and happy reasons), and connected on the most basic human level. We shared our stories and nodded knowingly on hearing others’ experiences (often if we hadn’t lived it, we had worried or wondered about such things): a young woman who’d donated to her father a few yrs ago was grieving for the kidney he had lost a month before, a mother from Texas donated to her son who was on dialysis when the power was out for days during a hurricane and she lived in terror of the generator going out. There were happy tears on hearing of people who’d donated to someone from their church whom they’d barely known and now get invited to every graduation, wedding, and baby shower–a warm acknowledgment that if it wasn’t for the donors, the recipients might not have been around for these special family events. I met altruistic donors (who donate to an unknown recipient)–many were thrilled to meet their recipient and were welcomed as part of the family, some had never met even years later, one wished they hadn’t met–but all continued to be tireless champions of living donation.

I heard it repeatedly: we felt like we were among family or old friends. A sense of community that transcends demographics, politics, religion, sexual orientation–if you thought it was no longer possible in 2018, I’m happy to report that it was very much alive and well in Chicago this weekend. True, it was a very special gathering, but now I know that it is indeed possible. May you all experience it sometime soon. It’s a helluva feeling!

This post appeared on my Facebook page, April 27, 2018.

 

Living Donors Rally, April 21, 2018, in Chicago–we set a Guinness World Record for largest gathering of living donors! Can you see me?
Photo by John Martin Photography, Detroit.