Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary


Diane and Jim

Jim Wilson and Diane Langton before his transplant

The first thing I saw when I returned to work and checked this morning’s paper was a story about the death of Jim Wilson, a young New York man who died Sunday.

I really didn’t want to read further because in 2004 Jim was the recipient of a kidney from Diane Langton, a coworker. I truthfully didn’t want to learn  that Jim had died from complications of the transplant.

I had talked with Diane about a month ago and asked her how Jim was doing. Fine, she told me, and he was enjoying life without dialysis. Jim was born with only one kidney and when that began to fail, he needed dialysis.

I wondered, as I first read the news, if Diane somehow felt her generous sacrifice has been wasted and then automatically knew that would not be the case. Diane offered a kidney to Jim when she learned the family had been scammed by another Cedar Rapids resident who began to ask the family for money to complete the transplant procedure. That’s illegal.

Diane felt so badly about how the family had been treated that she began to wonder if she could donate a kidney, did the research to discover she had the same blood type, prayed over it and began to keep a journal of her feelings and experiences as she became Jim’s wish-granting angel.

She glowed – with great sincerity – about her opportunity to make such a big difference in someone’s life, in fact to give him life, so I knew she would never regret her decision to help a complete stranger.

When Chris, another coworker, came in and expressed her empathy about Jim’s death and how it must be affecting Diane, I said I hadn’t had the courage to read the story yet because I did not want to know the death was caused by the transplant. I was hoping perhaps for a freak car accident or something totally out of the blue.

Chris, soft-hearted friend that she is, immediately said, “Oh, I didn’t think about your situation.  I’ll read it and let you know if it’s OK for you to read.” I told her I did intend to read the story, but before I got to it, Chris said it was OK to read, though it wasn’t a car accident.

What it was was a heart attack and of course in some ways that probably was partially caused by the kidney problems Jim suffered.  High blood pressure goes along with kidney woes and that isn’t always “cured” by a new kidney.

When I read the article, it also told me that my intuition about Diane’s reaction was correct. Here’s the last few sentences:

Langton said the four years she gave Wilson was more than worth it. “I would do it all over again,” she said. “I helped someone have a better life.”

Diane was an inspiration then and still is today. Her generosity and sincerity touched me during the process and became even more special in my mind and heart when my kidneys failed. Nothing like a brush with that reality to emphasize how special living donors are, especially those who donate to strangers.


January 16, 2008 - Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, fistula, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, transplant, weight loss

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