World, meet Sam. She’s most likely one of the most selfless people you’ll ever meet. I hope by the end of this blog, she has inspired you to help make the world a better place.
If you call her a hero, she gets shy and uncomfortable, and says that she just did what anybody else would do. No Sam, that’s not true. You’re special & unique. Not only did you give up an organ, but you did it for someone you didn’t even know. Tell me, who else does that???
I met Sam & Jim through email. They were looking for a wedding photographer, and we ended up talking for such a long time, getting to know each other through email because they lived all the way in Milwaukee. They had a beautiful wedding on a beautiful day in April 2011. I remember it vividly because it landed on my birthday, and they gave ME a special cake during their reception. I remember thinking how thoughtful Sam was! It was her wedding day, and she got ME a cake. Little did I know, she was going to change my life & my husbands life in such a huge way a few years later. Like all of my couples, we stay connected through facebook! About a year and a half ago, my husband’s newly transplanted kidney failed. It was absolutely devastating. We thought we wouldn’t have to deal with that until 15-20 years from now. We felt awful for the donor of that kidney, because she felt like it was all for nothing. And let me just say, it was definitely NOT for nothing. She gave Bryan life when we thought it was nearing the end. She gave us the best year and a half of our lives & our marriage. We will always be in gratitude for her. Bryan was surprisingly very optimistic and hopeful. It almost seemed like he wasn’t sad. Maybe he was really optimistic, maybe he felt like he had to be the rock of everyone around him.. Maybe it was both. He knew he was going to get a new kidney.
Practically immediately, Sam reached out to me, saying that she is interested in donating her kidney. We’ve got several people requesting information. I wanted to be really upfront with everybody, telling them that it’s a lot harder than it sounds. You have to be willing & able to take off of work for months. The pain is astounding. And yes, you don’t need two kidneys, but you’ll need an extra if anything happens to one of them. What if you’re future children need a kidney transplant, and you won’t be able to donate. These are all serious things to consider. You are not a bad person if you decide donating isn’t for you. Maybe you can give back to the world in another special way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to convince you NOT to be a donor, but I just want to make sure that the people out there know what’s in store.
Sam never wavered. She had her heart set on doing this from day one. Let me remind you, SAM HAS NEVER MET BRYAN before her testing. She told us that she just wanted us to have a normal life & a normal marriage. She wants us to be able to travel & to have kids. And she thought it was unfair that we haven’t been able to do things that every other married couple gets to do.
Since she didn’t know Bryan, the transplant coordinator made her wait 6 months so she can really think hard about her decision.
Again, Sam never wavered. The day the 6 month waiting period was over, she told us that she’s ready. And so began the testing. There have been a few snags in the road, and frustrations grew (never with each other of course). We couldn’t help but to think this might not happen after all, but Sam has always told us that no matter what, she’s going to give him her kidney. This girl just wasn’t giving up! How determined can someone be to give up an organ for someone they don’t even know?? We were so thankful for her determination.. And her heart.
The day finally came!! The surgery was set for Halloween morning. We all had our reservations, given all the roadblocks we had to endure, so we were cautious not to get our hopes too high. Sam went in for surgery.. Then Bryan went in for surgery.. we waited.. Sam came out of surgery & she did great! Bryan came out of surgery & he did great. His kidney IMMEDIATELY started working and producing a crazy amount of urine!! It was official! SAM HAS DONATED HER KIDNEY TO MY HUSBAND!! LET THE HAPPY TEARS FLOW!! I would be lying if I didn’t say it still hasn’t really sunk in. It happened! It actually, finally happened!
One of the first things that Sam said to me through her pain-filled, groggy eyes was “How’s Bryan???” <3 I was so happy to report that he was doing great, and she gave him a SUPER KIDNEY!
Sam has been staying with us since her release from the hospital. She leaves in a few days, but I am just so happy that we got to spend this time together. I got to take care of her and got to somewhat repay just a pinch of gratitude I have for this amazing woman. She has inspired me to give back, in whatever way I can. Not just once, but to live my life paying it forward. She is such an inspiration to Bryan & I. We’re just trying to brainstorm on something that we can do for charity. So stay tuned for that!
Sam, you mean so much to us! I know I’ve said it over and over again, but you’re our hero. You saved his life. I hope you know what a blessing you are, and the magnitude of what you have done for us. You are a beautiful person, radiant inside and out. ANYBODY would be blessed to have you as a friend & family member. We are now connected, and you will always be our family. Thank you, from the very bottom of our hearts for everything. For the stress you went through to get to this point, for taking off of work for so long, to go through the pain of surgery & recovery, for being absolutely & utterly selfless through this whole process, and of course, saving Bryan’s life. We can never repay you for your generosity, but like I’ve told you, we will spend the rest of our lives paying it forward… Just like you asked. We <3 you.
Special thanks to Stephanie with B. Moore Artistry for the amazing makeup. We all know how beautiful she is, but now you made her feel what we see. She didn’t want to take it off. She looked incredible!