I want to thank Save 1 Person for helping to facilitate the kidney transplant that ultimately saved my life. Thanks to the organization's media network, I am again a healthy husband, employer, son, brother, friend and, most important, father of four great kids, with another on the way. I am just one small example of how the media can make a difference.
In 2004, I was a 36-year-old father of three children under 5, dependent on dialysis for life support. But dialysis was racking my body. My blood pressure skyrocketed as high as 280/180. Doctors were afraid I'd suffer a stroke or worse. I was already suffering severe migraines which were debilitating for up to 12 hours after dialysis was over. Due to a prior transplant (after a 7 year wait) and blood transfusions, I was a difficult person to "match," as I'd built up antibodies to the most common antigens found in most of the population.
Thanks to my wife getting the word out to friends and family, nearly 100 people were tested for me. That's the power of the internet. Friends passed her appeal onto friends. All this forwarding landed her email in the inbox of Save 1 Person, an organization that highlights one person in the media weekly who needs a medical miracle. Thank God, Lauren found it worthy enough to highlight my situation a Save 1 Person news break and distribute it to her media contacts across the globe. Our miracle was in motion when Alice Stockton Rossini of 1010 WINS picked up the Save 1 Person news break and ran a story on me. As a result, hundreds of people called my hospital to inquire about getting tested. We were looking for a needle in a haystack and 1010 WINS cast the wide net we needed. Among those who called was a lovely woman from the Bronx named Regina Grebb.
Many people hear a heart-wrenching story and they want to help. They even take the first step, but fear understandably takes over. Relatives dissuade their good intentions. A spouse puts his foot down. Second thoughts settle in. Regina was tenacious every step of the way, as we later learned (at the time, everything was kept from us. This is done so the potential recipient can't make contact with the potential donor and possibly attempt to coerce, bribe or otherwise influence the decision). Ultimately, Regina was the needle in the haystack and a date was set. We both came through the surgery with flying colors. My wife met her parents in the waiting room and they cried and prayed together. The afternoon after the surgery, Regina and I were allowed to meet. It remains one of the most pivotal and spiritual moments of my life. It's like meeting your own guardian angel. When I asked her why she did it, she said “I felt it was something I was meant to do and if it could save a life, why not?” But Regina didn't stop there. She went on to pursue her dream of motherhood, despite being single. She had a successful pregnancy with one kidney and is now the mother of a beautiful 14-month-old girl.
Not to be outdone, I am happy to report my wife and I had our fourth child last December, and we are now pregnant with our fifth :-) I am so grateful to God for the children he has given both Regina and me. Without Regina, I might not be alive, much less a father of four. And Regina says donating her kidney gave her the confidence to become a mommy without a mate. We remain very close to her and to her parents and look forward to many more celebrations together.
It has been over 4 years since I received Regina's kidney. And everyday I ponder over how a stranger could give a gift like this to a stranger. Could I have done the same thing? Could you? With gratitude to Save 1 Person and 1010 WINS for highlighting a Save 1 Person news break.