Pairing #2: Message from a living donor

I skipped the book pairing this episode because (1) the only book/story which came to mind was the Tell Tale Heart and (2) I found a much better story to tell. 

Patrick Gartside has donated a kidney and bone marrow to two individuals he had never met before being matched with.  I contacted Patrick to see if he would write on why he did It and thankfully he agreed to help me out. 

It’s often easy between the news headlines and bad drivers to believe people are selfish and too self-involved to care, but it’s people like Patrick who make me want to help others and that collectively we can be good (or in Patrick’s case, extraordinary) to one another. - Andrea

It really all just came down to chance and choice. From childhood, I’ve always felt a need to give. Never did I believe that such small gifts could become a game-changers, a life-savers, for two strangers in need.

By chance, the events of daily life had brought me to St. Francis Medical Center East. Back then, I worked as a delivery guy, often bringing food from restaurants to doctors’ offices. After making a delivery one afternoon, I had stumbled upon the office for the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry. An inquiry to the staff inside led to me finding out just how easy it was to sign up. I filled out a form, and placed four drops of blood on a card to be tested. That was it, quick and easy.

It was less than a year later, in the fall of 2005, when I received the call that I was a potential match for someone. Some more forms were filled out and a few more vials of blood were taken to ensure that we were a match. I was also given a physical to ensure that I was in good health.

My unwavering commitment to move forward with the procedure was more important than ever. The patient, who was to remain completely anonymous, would undergo a painful and potentially deadly regimen of chemotherapy before receiving my marrow. If I were to have had second thoughts after starting the process, they would not survive.

On November 8th, I became a donor after a week of daily shots at the hospital. After a year, I learned my donated marrow saved a man’s life. He was healthy, walking around, smiling and laughing—living.

It was again pure chance that led to my next organ donation. The one year follow up appointment after my marrow donation was just down the hall from the Transplant Institute of the Pacific; another door I stumbled through. There were posters on the wall and brochures on the desk that talked about living kidney donations. I walked out with a packet of information and full intent to donate a kidney to someone in need.

As matching for a kidney donation is easier, the Transplant Institute arranged for someone on the waiting list to receive my kidney. My kidney was to go to a young boy. This time around there were a lot more tests taken. Both kidneys would need to be working well, and I needed to be in excellent health for this procedure. At the last moment, due to an infection on the boy’s part, my kidney went instead to a middle-aged woman. Many years later, I learned over a Sunday lunch she had become a grandmother after the transplant.

I still think often though about that young boy—the one who was supposed to receive my kidney. Now, I write for him to you. Save a life. Become a donor.
— Patrick Gartside

Book Pairing #3: Things a Little Bird Told Me

Book Pairing #1: Juno Chung & Pancakes!!!