Valentines Day is for Donors

Happy Valentine’s Day!  It is also National Donor Day. It couldn’t be a more perfect way for us to celebrate Valentines in the Archer household.   As you may know, my Husband donated a kidney to me in December.

Unless we have been touched by it, most of us know very little about organ donation.  We certainly didn’t and many things were shocking along the way. We hope to use our experience to help others.    

What about “The List”?  Oh if Barry and I had a nickle for every time we were asked that question during the donor search.   When you are referred to transplant, they tell you not to expect a kidney from the list.  They even give you instructions on how to organize a donor drive. It takes years to work to the top of “The list”. It takes so long in fact that 18 people a day (over 6500 a year)  tragically DIE on that list. Those who do eventually get an organ off the list are gravely ill after spending years on dialysis. Cadaver organs also have a substantially shorter life span in transplant than live donor organs.  Live donor is absolutely the way to go.

Donors do NOT need to be blood relatives as they once did. They need only be a blood type match and an antigen match. It is very difficult to find a donor who is considered healthy enough to be approved.  9 out of 10 are disqualified. Dozens of things disqualify a donor.  The transplant center’s  #1 job is to ensure that the donor will not end up in poor health.    Waiting throughout the donor process was the most difficult of my life.   Every NO felt like a death sentence.  That being said, I wouldn’t have wanted them to risk anyone else.   

Our miraculous kidneys. The two kidneys most of us are born with yield four times the function we need to be healthy. So even with only one kidney, we still have twice the function what we need to live a normal, healthy life. As a donor, your remaining kidney will also increase in size up to 20%. As an additional insurance policy, if a donor ever needs a kidney, they go to the top of the list ahead of everyone else.   

If you know someone who needs a kidney, please seriously consider filling out the form to be tested. It is a simple on-line form with some basic questions that determine if you are even a candidate.   Is it a lot to ask, YES it is.  That is why we call it “The big ask”.  But we also call it “The big give”.

I can’t describe the emotional boost it gave us every time a friend messaged to say “I filled out the form”. Dozens and dozens of people did so. One friend, Bartlett, made it all the way to physical testing. Bartlett was a miraculous 4 out of 6 match. When he arrived, I told him in all seriousness that it didn’t matter if he was approved.  Him just offering gave me hope.  In that moment I new that if someone I worked with 20 years ago in Hawaii would step up, others would as well.  it was the first time I had felt hopeful in 6 months. Hope is a precious commodity when you are racing against the clock.  Filling out the form gives hope. 

For our final story, we were “lucky”.  My Husband was a good match (3 out of 6) but it was a nine month roller coaster ride. He was the first person to be tested and the first one disqualified.  When he was found to be a match, I remember thinking… God’s got this…it’s perfect.  This is our perfect love story.  When he was disqualified, we were both devastated.   It took both of us weeks to regroup.

As all of our donors were disqualified (dozens of them),  my Husband also got a clean bill of health from our Doctor (a high protein, strenuous work out program caused him to spill protein and be disqualified).  I will never forget how excited he was.  He went back to the transplant center and fought to be reconsidered. I should say harassed… harranged… charmed and cajoled.  He was relentless. He was approved as a donor in the early Fall.  My function plummeted dangerously low in November and we schedule the surgery for December, 2015

I can’t describe the emotions of the last year and I feel the pain of others going through it. I know how rough the road is.   I know what it feels like to seriously wonder if you are going to die, if you will live to see your child grown, if you will grow old with your Husband.  It is gut wrenching.

As I am ineligible to be a donor… I share their stories, I donate to fundraisers, I try to increase awareness, I try to encourage those walking the path, I pray that people will be called to step forward and I pray for the emotional strength of those who need a donor.  

Happy Donor Day.  It is a day of hope and love and joy!

To patients: I can not stress enough that you MUST be your own advocate.  Had we not pushed to have my Husband re-evaluated I would be on dialysis praying that I got to the top of the list before I died. Instead, we are celebrating a wonderful Valentines Day planning the future ahead.  Don’t worry about being liked, worry about getting healthy. 

Michelle Archer is a seasoned, veteran executive in the direct selling industry with 25 years of experience. Her past corporate and field experience gives her a fresh perspective on business, success and direct selling. She partners with young companies and individuals through executive coaching and consulting to explode their potential. Connect with her on Facebook Learn more at

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