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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 12:41 pm | Fog/Mist 55º

 
 
 
 

Randy Weiss: The Truth About Kidney Transplants Is the Gift of Life

April is 'donate life' month. As an insider with a story to tell, may I ask you to consider it?

[Noozhawk’s note: In June 2009, Randy Weiss donated a kidney to a young Santa Barbara Bank & Trust colleague, Katherine Pinedo, in a successful transplant operation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Click here for the story. Weiss was a presenter at Saturday’s Gift of Life Community Forum on Organ Donation, organized by Santa Barbara residents Lisa and Scott Burns in their quest to promote local dialogue and to find a kidney match for Scott. The following is an excerpt from Weiss’ presentation.]

There are currently more than 102,000 individuals awaiting a lifesaving kidney transplant, including my good friend, Scott Burns.

That’s way too many!

If people knew the truth about what an amazing journey one could experience in saving someone’s life, there would likely be more kidneys available for donation than people desperately waiting to receive one.

From personal experience, here’s why:

» No Big Deal — These days it’s lapiscopic surgery for the donor. No big chest scar like in the past. Four little “bullet holes” and a “bikini cut” are the only physical reminders. Quicker recovery time, too. I only missed a few days of work and had some soreness (like doing too many sit-ups) for a few weeks — all worth it!

» Great Way to Lose Weight and Improve Health — You’ll get serious about slimming down prior to surgery. Once focused, it took six months to get into the best shape of my adult life, lose 34 pounds and reduce my blood pressure and cholesterol to more acceptable levels.

» ‘Rock Star’ Treatment — Incredible TLC came from all care providers. Extensive medical tests, including a colonoscopy that wasn’t even on my radar screen, provided “a clean bill of health” –- all gratis, courtesy of my recipient, Katherine’s insurance. And my post–op private room was huge! When asked, “What’s up here?” my nurse replied, “We always treat our donors like rock stars.”

» Always Humbling (and Sometimes Embarrassing) Reactions — Katherine and I have both been touched by the many heartfelt, and often surprising, comments that people share about how our story affected them. Nearly four years later, some still ask me, “How’s your kidney?” My fun response: “Which one?”

» No Noticeable Difference — The fact is, with only one kidney, you’ll likely treat yourself better; eat healthier, exercise, drink more water like you are supposed to, and live longer, as studies show. I kid that another health advantage is reducing the risk of getting kidney stones by 50 percent!

» New Life Perspective — After donation, you’ll likely do things you’ve often dreamed of but have never done (for me: races, triathlons and long distance ocean swimming) and live in every moment. Sunsets just seem to look differently now, too.

» Good Karma — In ways real and imagined, you will be repaid many times over for your generosity that came without any expectation of anything given in return. And you will forever know that, if for only once in your life, when it was time to “stand up and be counted” — you did. That you’ve helped another fellow human being lead a more normal life is a special moment in time.

» You Will Have an Impact on Countless Lives — Dialysis is horrible. A transplanted kidney will truly give life and “cut the cords.” It’s akin to giving birth. And with Katherine now living her dream with a baby daughter, that’s actually two lives (and counting) ...

» Your Story Might Unknowingly ‘Pay It Forward’ — Your selfless gift may propel others to do the same, as it did for me. You become a mentor to anyone savoring advice before his or her own surgery. Your gift keeps on giving every single day forever.

» Best Thing You Will Ever Do for Someone (and Yourself) — Katherine says I saved her life. The truth is that I believe she actually saved mine.

The human body and human spirit is amazing!

Giving life via blood, platelets and even organ donation is easier than one may think.

And if you are waiting for the Department of Motor Vehicles to come collect your organs when your time is up because you have a “dot” on your license, you are truly missing out on experiencing one of the most beautiful opportunities of a lifetime.

Or two lifetimes ...

Or more.

People still kiddingly ask me for my other kidney.

I tell them they can have it — not just yet.

The bottom line?

If I could, I would do it all again ... in a heartbeat!

— Randy Weiss is local freelance writer and longtime Noozhawk contributing writer. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

First United Methodist Church of Santa Barbara was the scene of The Gift of Life Forum on Organ Donation on Saturday evening. The panelists included, from left, Dr. Darol Joseff, chairman of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital's Internal Medicine Department; Anne Grey, executive director of One Legacy Foundation; Dr. Lauren Wood, a urologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles; Chaplin Pam Washburn, Cottage Hospital's director of spiritual care; and organ donor Randy Weiss. (Weiss family photo)
First United Methodist Church of Santa Barbara was the scene of The Gift of Life Forum on Organ Donation on Saturday evening. The panelists included, from left, Dr. Darol Joseff, chairman of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital’s Internal Medicine Department; Anne Grey, executive director of One Legacy Foundation; Dr. Lauren Wood, a urologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles; Chaplin Pam Washburn, Cottage Hospital’s director of spiritual care; and organ donor Randy Weiss. (Weiss family photo)

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