This is my memory of my friendship with my friend Kim Mooney Canup who I am donating my kidney to. To our friends, some of this will bring back your own memories. I am so blessed to have these lifelong friends. To friends that I know more recently, this might help you to understand why I would do this for someone I love very dearly. This is our story as I remember it.....
It all started about 25 years ago when I was a teenager. I believe I was entering high school, but maybe....I was in middle school. I don't recall exactly. I met a family that rode my bus from Bethlehem Elementary to the middle and high schools every day. The Mooney's lived about 3 miles from my house, but we didn't really see each other except on the bus every day. There were 3 kids in their family at the time....Michelle, Kim, and Michael. It wasn't until late high school (11th grade for me) that I started "hanging out" with them. Michelle and I worked at WalMart together and Kim and I ran in the same circle of friends. Boy.... did we have a great set of friends that loved hanging out together! We even still have those same friends to this day! We had every weekend filled with going to Holly Hanson's lake house, cruising Holly Hill Mall (about 60 laps a day!), thrill hill, and numerous other adventures. We just generally had a good time.
It was the the day of my 16th birthday and I could finally go on a real date! Michelle Mooney called me up one day just before my birthday and asked me if I wanted to go on a double date with her and Kevin. I was to go out with another friend of ours, Jeff Meck. Jeff lived across the street from me and I knew him fairly well, but we were just friends. Fast forward a few months and Kevin and Michelle had broken up, but Michelle was expecting a baby with Kevin. Kevin and I had been "dating" one week when she told us she was almost 5 months pregnant. Despite it being a difficult time for all of us (our friends were torn between Michelle and us b/c of the pregnancy), we remained friends with both she and Kim. Lyndsey was born 9/12/91. Kim and Michelle lived in an apartment together at the time of her birth and shortly after she was born Michelle started dating and ended up marrying Jonathan Stowe. It was very difficult for a little while, but we developed a great co-parenting bond with them both that stood the test of time. Kevin and I started getting Lyndsey every other weekend and we spent many birthdays and holidays together with the Mooney's. We even spent a few nights at Kim and Michelle's apartment so we literally were one big happy family! We all tried getting along for Lyndsey's sake and we grew even tighter with the Mooney's.
Several years after we graduated, Roho Mooney got sick with polycystic kidney disease. This is an inherited disease and can be life threatening. It indeed did take his life after he was sick for a long while. Kim found out she was also positive with PKD when she was 15 years old (although I just found that out recently). Michael also has it, but Michelle and their younger brother do not. Kim has always just been in my life and we have always thought of each other as family. We knew after her daddy passed away with this disease and her paternal aunt/paternal cousin also had it, that there might come a time where one or all of them would have to go on dialysis and need a transplant. Kim's aunt has already received a cadiver kidney (6 years ago and she's doing great). Her brother and cousin so far aren't on dialysis and from I understand are pretty healthy for now.
Kim went on dialysis about a year ago and was just approved to be placed on the transplant list. As soon as she told us she was on the list, I asked how I could sign up. Kim knew I wasn't kidding when I told her this. This is something I have always known I would do should she ever need a kidney.
I'm sure you are probably thinking "WHY"?
Why would I do this?
I really did ask myself why someone would NOT do this? I know what you're thinking....SURE....but Kim's not even related to you and you are right, but I have been taught that if I have something that someone else needs and I can provide it.....WHY NOT?
Don't get me wrong, I've literally thought long and hard about when it REALLY came down to it, would I do it? For years....the answer has always been YES!!! So, when she was placed on the list...I called the following day and asked how I could be checked to see if I was a match.
Emory took my information over the phone and said a transplant nurse would be calling me back to set up a telephone interview for the pre-screening. It took them a long time to finally call me but when they did, I passed my pre-screening with flying colors. My transplant nurse said my next step would be to have bloodwork done to see if we were a match. I was told that test could take 3-5 weeks to result. I was flying to Haiti about a month after I did my labs so we were trying to expedite my approval b/c Ebola was in the news a lot at the time and international travel was worrisome to them. One day 18, Nov. 21, 2014 nurse Katie called me at work to say I was a perfect match for Kim to have direct donation through me! It was the day before I was to leave for Haiti and exactly 6 days before Thanksgiving. I couldn't believe not only was I a match, but I was a PERFECT MATCH! Actually, yes I could believe I was a match b/c Kim and I had been talking about this for years and we had faith that I would be HER match. I was at work when I got the news so it was all I could do to hold in my excitement. I was squealing and jumping up and down!! I started trying to dial Kim's number through the tears running down my face. Kim answered on the second ring and I said, "Kim, I'm a perfect match for you"! I'll never forget what she said, " I KNEW it....Thank you Jesus".
We both cried and were squealing with excitement. I quickly ran down exactly what the nurse had told me and how it was supposed to go from here. I told Kim I loved her very much and hung up so she could call her family and I could call mine. We posted the news on Facebook right away so everyone could share in our good news and we asked everyone to please thank God for this tremendous blessing!
Somehow, the rest of the day I was supposed to work the rest of the day, but my emotions were trying to get the best of me. My first patient after I talked to Kim was a child that needed his blood drawn for a CBC. My hands were shaking really bad. Thankfully, this family knew me fairly well so when I gloved up in the room the father asked me what was wrong b/c I had a red face from crying and my hands were trembling. I thought he might ask me to go get someone else to stick his kid, but he didn't. I told him the news I had just gotten and he started saying, "hold up a minute". He took off his jacket, then his shirt, and shows me his 10 inch scar from where he had donated his kidney to his mom 23 years prior!
Did you see that? 23 years ago? 23 years ago my stepdaughter was born and The Mooney's became my family through the birth of my stepdaughter! It felt like God had brought me full circle and He was confirming to me that He had been in this all those years ago! WOW!!
My phone was blowing up with messages and texts from hundreds of mine and Kim's friends congratulating us. Kim and I agreed to go out to dinner that evening to celebrate. I asked Kim to get to the restaurant a few minutes early so I could share with her what was on my heart. When we saw each other, we hugged and cried for a long time. I took Kim's hand and looked her straight in the eyes so she would truly understand what I wanted to share with her. I told her how I had not come to this decision without having put a lot of thought into it. I told her how much I loved her and how I had always considered her my family and always would, but that I didn't want her to treat me any differently than she did now. I don't want her to be indebted to me for the rest of her life, say thanks, and move on. I'm nobody special. I just have a great big heard and love using it to serve God. Kim agreed that she would do her best not to change the way she treated me, but that she could never thank me enough.
I still have to get approved for the actual surgery. Labs, tests, x-rays, CT scans, and multiple doctor appts but I am ready to jump through each one. Thanksgiving this year meant a little more to me....I am thankful for my family, my friends, good health, and most of all, that I get to be a blessing to someone else. Kim deserves this and I can't wait!!
Love you Mooney! Always!
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