I have always worn a bracelet that I had made up that states “Believe No Excuses.” I was in Michigan at a wedding and no one knew I had this kidney problem. I met my step-nephew’s girlfriend and talked a few minutes to them and never said anything about my condition. A few months later, they got married 12 miles from where I live. They did not even know where I lived, and we were not invited to the wedding. Once I heard where they were getting married, I invited them and the wedding party the next day to our home. Again, I never mentioned my condition – all we did was party and ride the boat. Four months later, they were on vacation back in Florida and we took them to dinner. At dinner, she asked me what was on my bracelet. I told her the words and my condition and that I do talks on the subject. She asked what my blood type was, and I told her. She stated she was not even sure of her type and we left it at that. I did say I was going to Tampa General for doctor visits and I was registered there as well.
A few weeks later, she called and stated she had her blood test done and we were a match! She added that she would be honored to give me her kidney. I told her thanks but there was a lot more then just matching blood, and besides, I’m 27 years older than her and she comes from a family of 9 kids plus she has two children of her own, plus my step-nephew has two kids as well. Besides, I rarely see any of my family in Michigan for we moved away from there many years ago. We left the conversation as thanks for the offer but I’m okay with my life the way it is. Six months later she called up and stated she had all her test done and sent to Tampa and got word that day that we were a match! She scheduled the operation for a couple weeks later, and I received her kidney. That is the short version of the story. She changed my life for ever and I arranged for her to speak and be with the University of Michigan doctors and nurses group at the Michigan NASCAR race in Michigan. WOW — it was two years May 18th — there is always hope and it is about being the best one can be with the condition they have and no excuses.
My involvement with the NKF started in 2009 after I received a kidney transplant from my sister, Sarah. Since then, I have done numerous kidney walks, participated in the 2010 U.S. Transplant Games, and attended the 2012 World Kidney Day fly-in. The NKF is an amazing organization that has done so much for me and my family. Thanks!
– Matthew, NKF Advocate in Ohio
Among a group of so many advocates, it was great to meet a “person like me.” Matt’s experience with kidney failure and transplantation is an inspiration. Diagnosed in his 20’s, he continued pursuing his graduate degree, running marathons, and getting involved with advocacy. He gives me hope that after a kidney transplant, I can again live a fulfilling life.
– Ewo, NKF Advocate in Florida