New Life

Four years ago today, my friend Martha donated a kidney to a total stranger. It was part of a somewhat historic 3-way “paired donation”: Martha gave a kidney to a woman in Denver, whose husband gave his kidney to a woman in Alabama, whose husband in turn gave his kidney to Martha’s friend Robin in North Carolina.

All three surgeries were simultaneous, very early in the morning (at least on this side of the country). I hadn’t slept well and woke up early, feeling helpless and anxious here in Albuquerque — Martha’s surgery was in Denver. I got up and walked up into the foothills. On my way back, I saw the sunlight on these new leaves and snapped this photo.

All the surgeries went well and Martha’s, in particular, was completely uncomplicated. I was really impressed and totally in awe at the time that she was willing to give up a major organ — and I still feel that way today. Her donation set off a chain reaction in which three people avoided or got off dialysis. There were three families who no longer had to worry about their loved one’s health; three sets of children who got more years with their mothers.

I remember that day whenever I see this photo. It seems so appropriate that I saw the beautiful spot of sunlight on those new leaves during Martha’s surgery. New life — for the three kidney recipients, their families, and this tree.

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