Still Reaching Beyond Our Grasp…

I’m proud and excited to unveil our book’s beautiful cover. We believe it strikes just the right tone and look (given the heavy subject matter, we had to walk a fine line between too somber and too cutesy). The designers did a great job.

That the gift-wrap concept was inspired by my dear friend and former colleague Barbara Williams Ellertson is a special bonus. Barbara gave me my first job in book publishing at a small press, back in the 1980s. Before then my experience was in magazines and in feature writing, so book publishing was a whole new world. Barbara set the high standards that stayed with me.

I’ve been thinking about those days this week as I find myself, decades later, navigating digital page proofs of the book when I long for the comfort of galleys and repros. (On the other hand, I never would have been able to share the cover this way back then!)

In recent years Barbara and I have each followed our passion. You know about mine, of course: advocacy for kidney donation through this website, the upcoming book, and activism. Barbara’s passion combines her love of books with her love of art history, and she’s made a significant contribution to the field with the BASIRA (Books as Symbols in Renaissance Art) Project.

The Insider’s Guide to Kidney Donation will be out this summer and I hope will have a lasting impact, as will the BASIRA project. It’s funny where an idea, a passion, and a long reach can lead.

A Perfect Podcast to Honor National Donors Day

It’s been a busy couple of weeks since I last wrote about recording a guest spot on “This Podcast Will Kill You.” The episode on organ transplants aired this week and is available now. It fittingly arrived just in time for National Donors Day, which falls on Valentine’s Day. Learning about the fascinating biology and history–and critical need for–organ transplantation should spur more people to decide to register as organ donors.

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About 110,000 people in the United States are waiting for a lifesaving organ (most of them for a kidney). Only about 3 in 1,000 people die in such a way that organ donation is possible–for example, in a hospital following a car accident–so the pool is very small. That’s why it’s critical that everyone register. And those who can be organ donors can donate up to eight organs: two kidneys, two lungs, a pancreas, a liver, a heart, and intestines. Plus eyes and tissue–even hands and face.

The TPWKY podcast episode (no. 66, by the way, entitled “The Outs and Ins of Organ Transplants”) opens with my telling my story of donating to my son. Then Betsy Crais tells her story of receiving a kidney. Of course, we talk about our upcoming book, The Insider’s Guide to Living Kidney Donation. We were thrilled to learn that Erin Welsh, the co-host who interviewed us, had already read the complete manuscript and loved it. She urged listeners to watch for the book and even wrote a blurb for the book cover!

Please go to or any of several sites and register now. It will take just a minute. And be sure to tell your family of your wishes to be an organ donor. As much as I want to encourage living donation, on the opening page of this website, I recognize that “being a living donor isn’t for everyone. It’s a big decision.” Registering to be a donor after your death, on the other hand–when you don’t need those precious organs anymore–just seems like a no-brainer.

Talking about Books

I have so much to report this week as our book The Insider’s Guide to Living Kidney Donation makes its way to publication. Our copy editor is finishing up the detail work, and several people we admire in the donation and kidney community are reading the manuscript in preparation for writing back-cover blurbs! I’ll keep you posted on its progress as it goes into production in the coming weeks (we’re aiming for a spring publication).

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And this week my co-author, Betsy, and I recorded an interview for “This Podcast Will Kill You,” a very popular and creative science podcast. The engaging young scientists who are the hosts (both named Erin, by the way), know how to translate fascinating, but complex, information on diseases into accessible material for a wide audience. Their enthusiasm is infectious, too.

For an episode on organ transplantation, which will air February 9, Betsy and I described our experiences as a living donor and a kidney recipient. In the process, we hoped to shatter some myths about this similarly fascinating but complex subject. Naturally, we were also happy to talk about our upcoming book. Chatting comfortably with Erin Welsh was great fun.

Meanwhile, on other book fronts, I’m involved in a textbook for medical professionals, Living Kidney Donation: Best Practices in Evaluation, Care and Follow-up. Yes, you read that right: a medical textbook. No, I’m obviously not a medical professional, but the lead author, Krista Lentine, asked me to collaborate on a Patients’ Foreword for it (I’m proud to be its lead author). In the foreword we share the often overlooked perspectives of donors, recipients, and their families on events that of course affect the entire family. The textbook will be out in March.

Stay tuned for updates as each “event” goes live.