Archive for August, 2008

Here’s a great way to spend 60 seconds of your time between now and next Monday, September 1:  Support this terrific project that organ donation hero Lyn has pitched to American Express’ annual “Members Project” grant contest.  Each year Amex asks, “If you had a chance, how would you make a real difference?” So far this year, 1,190 project ideas have been submitted by real people with real stories.  American Express cardholders can nominate these projects, and in the end, Amex will choose a handful of worthy projects to share in a $2.5 million grant.  Each nomination pushes Lyns’ project further into “finalist” category — let’s help get her there!

You can nominate Lyn’s project, “Second Chances: Mobile Organ Donation Awareness” if you log in to the American Express Web site.  I believe you have to be an Amex cardholder to do this.  Here’s some of Lyn’s story, in her words:

My niece, Melissa, who has been fighting an unrelenting battle with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) for 18 years, was blessed to receive two double lung transplants in her short life of 18 years. Melissa is well-aware that for many others this is not the case, as she has watched 7 friends with CF pass on while awaiting organs.

Please nominate Melissa’s project by clicking on this link and please forward this to as many people as possible. Our goal is 5000 nominations! The Nomination deadline is September 1!


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Since we first launched the Greatest Gift Foundation in October 2007, I’ve been doing what I can to get started on the good work we envision it can do. We held our first big fundraiser, we rocked the Transplant Games, I’ve talked to living donor/transplant care coordinators at several hospitals around the country, we’ve connected several prospective living donors one-on-one to past living donors so they could share their experiences, and we’ve got this little blog you’re reading now up and running. But we were limited from doing much more until we received from the Internal Revenue Service our official tax exemption status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. (In short, that’s what makes the public’s donations to us tax-deductible for the donor and tax-free for us.)

Today, ten months and two days later, we got it! The letter arrived today. We can now begin to raise funds with confidence, and in turn, ramp up operations and do some more good for the living donor community.

My humble thanks go to everyone who has listened to me drone on about this 501(c)(3) thing and kept the wind in my sails while we waited. I’ll be sure to be extra nice to you all when I come to you soon to ask for money. 🙂

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It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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I don’t want to intimidate anyone by sharing this, but WordPress lets me see in my management dashboard page the search terms people used to successfully find and link to this blog.  Usually it’s stuff you would expect, like “living organ donor” or “kidney donor blogs,” or topical things like “Transplant Games.”  Sometimes it’s something random, like “plush kidney doll” — which gets searched for more than you might guess! — that takes people to this post.  But there have been a couple of fun tangential searches that made me laugh. 

My favorite so far appeared yesterday, and when I read it, you could describe my laugh as a “guffaw followed by a serene, knowing little grin.”  Before I tell it to you, first a short back story:

My surgeon for my living donation (partial liver) was Dr. Alan Koffron, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL.  Now, I am a single woman in my 30s, who appreciates a good-looking man.  And let me tell you, when Dr. Koffron walked into the room to see me for the first time, in his nice white doctor coat, I about fell over.  He is, in a word, dreamy.   I of course didn’t plan to tell him that, except I think I might have let something slip as the anesthesiologist was getting started, along the lines of, “Um, PLEASE don’t let me profess my undying love to Dr. Koffron as I’m going under, okay? Promise me!” So, alas, my sweet little crush has been kept silent, unrequited and unshared with the general public. 

Until now, that is, having learned that I’m not alone.  Here’s what someone searched yesterday, resulting in a visit to this blog:  “Is Alan Koffron married?”

Sadly, I believe he is.  On the upside?  He’s an outstanding surgeon, and he leaves a very subtle scar.

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I’m so immensely proud of Japanese Olympian Takashi Miyazawa, who crossed the finish line at the Great Wall yesterday in the Men’s Road Race cycling event while his jubilant, healthy mother, Junko cheered him on.  Seven years ago, Miyazawa put his cycling dreams on hold (he was determined to ride the Tour de France) to donate a portion of his liver to Junko, who was dying of liver disease.  Yesterday, he proved to the world that no detour through a living organ donation journey could dash his Olympic hopes.  Miyazawa, a two-time Tour de Okinawa winner, finished 86th in yesterday’s race.

The only paper I can find that has covered Miyazawa’s accomplishment is a daily Japanese paper — here’s the story in English.


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Yours truly gets to hob nob with local TV meteorologist It-Guy (and oh-so cutie) Sven Sundgaard in the rooftop garden set for the KARE-11 news 5 p.m. broadcast today (Friday).  

It’s not a pointless garden party — I’m there on a mission!  I and a few colleagues from the American Liver Foundation get a brief moment to promote our local chapter’s Liver Life Walk Twin Cities, which takes place on September 6, 2008, at Rosland Park in Edina. 

We’re working hard to get our numbers up this year for the walk, which for the past several years has done so much to help raise funds and awareness in the ALF’s fight against liver disease and its impact on families. 

YOU CAN HELP!  Consider walking with me on Team “Chopped Liver,” (just an easy two 1.1-mile laps around a pretty lake in one of our lovely urban parks on a sunny Sunday morning).  Or, you can sponsor my team with a financial gift, no matter how small.  The money we raise goes far to prevent liver disease (which impacts one in ten Americans today) and to cure and comfort the people who are affected by it. 

No obligation here.  So many of my regular readers have already shown up with support of the Greatest Gift Foundation, our annual Jingle Jangle, financially or otherwise — and it’s so appreciated!

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I found a nice quote of unknown origin online today:  “Life is an echo.  What you send out comes back.”  It’s reminiscent of the less elegant saying “what goes around comes around,” or the Mother Goose-y idiom “one good turn deserves another.”  All worthy (but probably woefully inadequate) ways of putting into mere words the glorious sentiment that eight people are feeling today at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia, which just conducted a four-way kidney swap, the state’s largest in history. 

Good samaritan Anthony DeGiulio got the idea to donate a kidney altruistically after watching a TV program.  His kidney went to a stranger to him named Barbara, whose husband had wanted to offer his own kidney but wasn’t a match for her.  But the husband was a match for someone else who was needing a kidney, a young woman he’d never met named Alina, whose father had been willing to give her his kidney but wasn’t a match.  The father was a match for a guy named Andrew, though…  and the swap went on, ultimately involving 50 clinicians at once and saving the lives of four and connecting the souls of all eight forever.

An article in the New York Daily News yesterday wrapped up with these three great paragraphs, the last of which features a comment by the gracious man who sparked the chain in motion, Anthony.  It’s a quote that sounds to me much more lovely (and much more personal) than any of the ones at the top of this post.

The [donor organ] swaps, also known as paired exchanges, have been responsible for 373 kidney transplants in the U.S., the United Network for Organ Sharing said.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins University performed a six-way exchange in April. They believe that a national registry of living kidney donors – including those willing to donate to strangers – could result in 6,000 transplants a year.

Some of his friends and family thought DeGiulio was “nuts” to donate his kidney, he said. “I wish it was more common,” he noted. “I sacrificed three days of my life, and this woman gets her life back. If I could feel like this every day, I’d do it any day of the week.”

My thanks to Tom Simon, who called my attention to this event and who serves as a shining source of inspiration to good samaritan donors like Anthony, his three “swap mates,” and the thousands of altruistic donors who give the gift of life so freely strangers in need.

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