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Good Health Leads to a Life-saving Gift

When Pastor Michael Fischer decided to be a living kidney donor, he started a chain reaction that blessed six families.

Pastor Michael Fischer
York, Pennsylvania
May 2016

In August 2015, I was blessed to share my gift of good health by becoming a living kidney donor through Pinnacle Health’s Transplant Center at Harrisburg Hospital. This was a journey with much learning and discovery.

Several years earlier, while watching the national news, I was captivated by a story describing a living kidney donor chain. This was the first time I had heard of such a thing. Who knew that donating one kidney could trigger a "chain reaction," literally improving the quality of life for multiple individuals in need of kidney transplants? I was intrigued.

Being intrigued led to some internet surfing and research on my part. But then my wife, Rose, and I moved across the state. With two new jobs, a new residence, and all that goes along with a major move, life became very full and the idea of donating was put on the back burner.

Lo and behold, while watching the national news one evening in early 2015, another story about a living kidney donor chain aired. Now that we were settled, I was set in motion. After discussing the idea with Rose, I made contact with the transplant center, simply to explore possibilities.

Over the next few months, the transplant center team educated both Rose and me. Having been married for a while now, one of the life lessons I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way!) is how important it is to make sure my life partner is involved in major decisions.

One by one, we worked through all the questions, the fears, and the "what-if’s." All the while, the transplant center put me through the best physical I’ve ever had — and probably ever will have! The team went looking for any hidden problems to ensure that my own health would not be compromised by donating.

As it became clearer that there were no hidden health problems with me, attention turned to who would receive my kidney. I was completely satisfied (and truth be told, relieved) that the transplant team (and their partners), would figure this out. Following comprehensive protocols, the team found someone they identified as the best possible match for my kidney. My recipient, in turn, had a loved one who was willing to donate one of their kidneys on behalf of another person in need. And thus began a donation "chain."

Several weeks after my surgery, I learned that six people in total had received kidney transplants. My kidney donation had indeed triggered the hoped-for “chain reaction!” In the process, Rose and I were blessed in so many ways, not the least of which was the love and support of friends, family, coworkers, our employers, and the entire team at the transplant center and Harrisburg Hospital.

While I do not yet know who received my kidney, and perhaps never will, I am blessed with the peace of knowing that many lives were transformed by my gift. This was a journey to share my gift of good health. Because being in good health was a prerequisite for being a kidney donor, I appreciate Portico’s efforts to educate, motivate, and yes, nudge me to make wellness a priority! And I give thanks to God for the opportunity to give a piece of myself away for the sake of the world.

This submission describes a personal perspective on an aspect of the ELCA benefit program that may or may not reflect the experience of others.

email Share your Wellness Voice at livewell@porticobenefits.org

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