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A matter of life and death

A hero died Monday.

I don’t know his name. I don’t know if it’s a him. I don’t know how he died. He could be homeless. She could be rich. I know as much as you do about this person but to me they’re a hero.

It may be a cop out but this is a blanket apology to co-workers, friends and the listeners to the Doug and Wolf Show because I’ve had a tough time the last nine months. You go to work trying to remain professional but it’s hard to stay focused.

There are elements of show prep that slip because of long evening conversations that take precedent. Sometimes sleepless nights cause you to be a hair slower in business that takes quick wit and focus to succeed. You expect people to just read your mind and figure it out yet you have no patience with them. I wasn’t like that most days but enough days that there are plenty of people wondering “What’s up his butt?”

My wife has a cousin she’s not real close to but not real distant from either. Her cousin is dying. She needs a kidney. My wife has two. Everyone in the family is either not a perfect match or has been too scared to find out if they are. My wife is not a perfect match but there’s a chance her cousin’s body wouldn’t reject a kidney from her.

A chance. Would you donate a kidney on a chance?

At first the answer was easy for my wife. Of course she would step up to save the life of her cousin. As the process continues, doubt comes with increased knowledge. You mean I have to fly where? I have to stay for how long? You mean the recovery will take that long? Do you pull the kids out of school? Does your husband come with you or keep working?

Then there’s the guilt. What if I don’t do it and she dies? What if my children need a kidney and now I can’t donate? What if I go through all this and it doesn’t work (no, you can’t get your kidney back)? What if I develop a kidney problem and…the questions continued.

The guilt gets worse when you add to it the religious aspect. My wife and I are very strong in our faith. If we believe Jesus sacrificed for us, it’s clear we should be willing to sacrifice for her cousin. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son to prove devotion to God, obviously if we are the people we want to be we must openly trust that we should give openly what were asked, trusting we’ll be taken care of.

So many nights, back and forth. So often listening to my wife go through an enormous array of emotions while I tried not to influence her decision. There were times she embraced saving a life while I secretly wished she would succumb to fear. Other times she would pull a stall tactic or slow progress and I was disappointed. We were never on the same page. We were always stressed.

On Monday, someone in Ohio died with healthy kidneys. That person was a perfect match. That death saved a life because of organ donation. I’ve been told my wife’s cousin is in a lot of pain. I’m told my wife’s cousin isn’t going through her regular routine of dialysis.

I used to have a very simple view of organ donation. I die, someone uses my organs and lives. I’ve never realized just how many people beyond the recipient are touched through organ donation. Because someone in Ohio died a hero, a family in Arizona remains whole.

I am an organ donor. I am not a hero now, but I will be. Will you?