Our Donor Heroes are our reason for celebrating. These persons are REAL Life Savers. There is no way we can emphasize what a difference they make in the lives of the persons who receive their lifesaving gift.
Please read our Donor Heroes’ stories to learn how the decision to become a living donor impacted their lives and how they came to the believe that this was the right thing to do.
William Thomas – Donor Hero
We have the power to save people’s lives
If you are reading this then you are thinking about helping a stranger. I donated to Paul back in September 2006 and my life has not been the same since. The Lord blessed me not for doing a good deed but for following His orders. I know this… the Lord gave us two of something and we only need one, the Lord does not make mistakes and He would want us to help each other. God bless you on your journey. William Thomas – Kodiak, AK
William Thomas - Donor Hero
We have the power to save people’s lives!
BUFFALO NEWS – MY View
By William Thomas
As reported by the Buffalo News
November 22, 2009
I was like you. I thought it would be nice to donate a kidney. But I was too busy, and besides, what if one of my kids needed it someday — what if I needed both? It’s better to let other people donate instead of me. I just don’t have the time.
One night, I watched a TV special about altruistic donors. I never realized how many people were dying while waiting for a broken system to work for them. So the next morning, I got on their Web site to see what it was all about. I was impressed with how organized the Web site was and I was blinded by the shear number of people — real people, like you and me — pouring out their last hope.
Before that day, these people were just a part of a large number. They represented a percentage of Americans. A number and a percentage that I had no connection to. I didn’t know anyone on dialysis and I’ve never known anyone who needed a transplant. I guess you could say God sheltered me from that trauma.
But something happened when I saw the people’s faces, read their stories, listened to their kids and parents. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like they became real to me. A transition was made from being a number to a real live person. These people, who were dying and scared and just wanting to live, were reaching out for help.
It didn’t take much thinking on my part before all my questions were answered. I could no longer rely on the “what if” factor as an excuse to keep me from saving a person’s life. No longer could I sit back and consider these people as unknowns. I realized that waiting for a family member to develop kidney disease was negative thinking. There were already people who needed one of my kidneys, and just because they are not related to me, doesn’t mean they deserve to die. So God took control and I contacted Paul.
I was not surprised when we found out we’re a perfect match. I wasn’t surprised how my own family tried talking me out of it. I wasn’t surprised when all the tests I took were passed. I wasn’t surprised at how Paul’s family welcomed me like a hero, and opened their family to me and welcomed me as a new member. I wasn’t surprised when the surgeon told me the operation went perfect. And I wasn’t surprised to walk out of the hospital three days later.
But I was surprised at the tears in my mom’s eyes as she told me she now understands why I did what I did. I was surprised by the feeling I had as the man, now carrying my kidney, tells me he doesn’t know how to thank me properly. I was surprised at how I was able to impact so many people’s lives in so many different ways. I was surprised at my own ability to stick to it.
And most of all, I was surprised at how close my personal walk with God became. I was surprised that I got more out of this than Paul did. More than family, or a close friend — a relationship with a living God.
So I want to ask you, are you willing to save a person’s life? Are you willing to help solve a growing problem in our country? Are you ready to get surprised? Most of all, will you rise when he calls your name? There are people out there who need your help. If I could, I would do it again.
If you want to contact me, get in touch with Jeanette Ostrom at www.wnykidneyconnection.org. She is a very nice lady helping to coordinate this Web site. She is also Paul’s mom. She has my e-mail and she will give it to you. I will try my best to answer your questions.
Diane Bookhagen – Donor Hero
Being an organ donor is incredibly rewarding
Three months ago, I was admitted to Erie County Medical Center for an elective nephrectomy. Today, with the exception of a small scar on my abdomen, I look and feel as well physically as I ever have. Although my outward appearance is the same, what has changed forever is my heart… see more below
Diane Bookhagen - Donor Hero
Being an organ donor is incredibly rewarding
BUFFALO NEWS – MY View
By Diane Bookhagen
Updated: July 23, 2012
Three months ago, I was admitted to Erie County Medical Center for an elective nephrectomy. Today, with the exception of a small scar on my abdomen, I look and feel as well physically as I ever have. Although my outward appearance is the same, what has changed forever is my heart.
You see, my surgery involved removing my left kidney and transplanting it into a man I had met the week before. Mitch Stone had posted his profile on the Western New York Kidney Connection many months before. He was suffering from a hereditary kidney disease and was facing a future on dialysis. I am in excellent health, am retired and had considered donation for some time. We emailed each other, I was tested at ECMC and we discovered that we were a match. Little did I know that by giving Mitch something he needed, I, too, would receive some remarkable gifts.
When I made the decision to become an altruistic donor, I was aware of the physical risks of major surgery and ramifications of living with one kidney. As a registered nurse and former living donor advocate at ECMC, I could recite “patient education material” in my sleep. What I was totally unprepared for was how donation would impact my life in so many unexpected ways. Another altruistic donor once wrote that his experience was full of surprises. I was surprised when:
* My loving but opinionated husband didn’t put up much of a fight about my decision. He said he knows that when I make up my mind …
* Through the experience, my husband and I grew closer.
* None of my friends thought I was crazy.
* My Mom and Dad’s faith, strength and support got even stronger.
* I felt like I had known Mitch’s wife, Cheryl, forever.
* I found out how good a pre-op hug from Mitch felt.
* My sons showed compassion and pride that overwhelmed me.
* My sister’s nurse/angel wings grew even bigger and brighter.
* I found out how good a post-op shower and new white bathrobe could feel.
* My friends at ECMC went above and beyond to care for me and protect my peace and privacy.
* I found out how good a post-op hug from Mitch’s family felt.
* My brother-in-law said he was proud of me on Facebook.
* My stoic teenage godson lent me the stuffed dog I got him when he broke his leg.
* My husband continued to go above and beyond to take care of me and our home as I recovered.
* I missed Mitch as soon as we left ECMC.
I don’t know what Mitch experienced with his illness before accepting my gift to him. We haven’t had the opportunity to talk much since the surgery. I know he is recovering well. I hope that his new kidney will help him have and share a better life with his family.
There is no way to measure what I have gained through all of this. I know my heart will continue to be open to whatever God’s plan is for me from now on. For all of it, I am forever grateful to Mitch.
There are thousands of people like Mitch in Western New York in need of a kidney. We are fortunate to have a state-of-the-art facility right here in Buffalo that performs transplant surgeries. Living donation is a safe, highly successful and incredibly rewarding experience. I would encourage anyone interested in more information to visit www.wnykidneyconnection.org