Marie Donates to Parish Member

I never thought I would ever get to this point, sharing our experience with others. My kidney was a personal gift to Christine and somehow felt boastful and less special if my offering became public. I understand now that the importance of promoting donor awareness, supersedes my need for obscurity.

I read Christine’s plea for a kidney in our parish bulletin on Labor Day weekend, 2007.  My odyssey began anonymously with only my husband and four children aware of my decision. After meetings with the transplant experts at PENN, they gave me their blessings and so the testing began.

The decision to remain anonymous was compelling but I wanted Christine to know that there was someone responding to her Gift of Life letter. I wrote her a long email but when I was ready to send it, it just disappeared and could not be retrieved.  It was then that I decided, or was decided for me…to be totally anonymous.  This felt ‘just’ because this was never about me, or even about Christine. It was all about God. Christine’s plea for help intersected with my plea for guidance. That is the message: God answers prayers, God provides. If no one knew me than I couldn’t get in the way of His message.

A month after the transplant, a coordinator from the PENN transplant team asked me to talk to a potential donor about my experience. It was during that conversation that I revisited my decision and decided to contact Christine. There was something missing and that was meeting and getting to know her. We e-mailed for about a month and we finally met on Mother’s Day…two months after the ‘kidney thing’.

That decision and subsequent friendship have blessed my life beyond measure. I was content, married to my best friend for 25 years, blessed with four beautiful loving children, comfortable with my faith life.

I learned that God did not want me to be comfortable. It is in the stretching, the reaching out that I grew in both faith and love. It was through my giving to Christine that I received: renewed faith, enhanced compassion and empathy for others, gratitude for all of God’s blessings.

I am not special, definitely not a hero—I am a donor but more importantly to me, I am also a recipient. I have been transformed by all the love and sharing I have received from Christine and her family. I am in awe of their courage and their faith.  I am inspired by Christine’s determination to continue to learn or relearn whether it be through listening to books on tape, mastering new computer programs or taking classes at the Art Museum.  She refuses to allow her challenges to define or limit her. She uses and shares all of her gifts with immeasurable generosity and love.

She is my hero.

Marie Manley