“I’ll take you back to January 2011. My best friends decided it was time for me to go out again after having a baby and I was happy to get out for a few hours. We went to see a local band play at a hotel bar and we were having a blast. A few hours go by and my best friend DJ decides (after SEVERAL drinks) it’s time to tell me he was just diagnosed with FSGS kidney disease or Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (meaning some sections of kidney filters are scarred.) DJ’s mother and uncle have both had kidney transplants but, that won’t be DJ, he’s tough, he can do anything. So after chatting I say to him, ‘Well, if you ever need a kidney, I have two good ones,’ as I chug my Bud Light and point finger guns at him. Oh, but how serious I would be.
Fast forward to 6 years later, September 2017. My best friends (DJ and his wife, Kari) and I haven’t talked in some time, because, well, life. I scroll Facebook and to my horror I see ‘Fundraiser for DJ’s Kidney Transplant.’ UM, his WHAT?! Frantically I start messaging DJ and his wife, ‘I will give you my kidney.’ I’m obviously met with some resistance, ‘No, it’s ok, we have some people willing to donate, you don’t have to do that, blah blah blah…’ No, but I do. You see, I’ve known DJ for the majority of my life and anytime I have ever needed ANYTHING, he’s dropped whatever to be there for me. From fixing my car, to too many drinks and him carrying me to the car to be my DD on my ridiculous 24th birthday. The man has been there people, and so has his wife. There was no way I could allow someone else to give him a kidney if I could do it. I said, ‘No, I’m telling you, it will come from me.’ Now here is where I should probably mention I am very much close with their family, however, my husband of less than a year at the time has never met Kari other than her taking our fabulous family photos, and he has NEVER met DJ. (I said life happened, remember?)
Next frantic TEXT MESSAGE is to my husband. (Classy right?)
Me: ‘Hey, I’m donating my kidney to DJ, Kari’s husband (you know… photo Kari.)’
Justin: ‘Uh… ok…’
Me: ‘You’ll meet him soon but he needs a kidney and I’m giving it to him.’
Ladies and Gentlemen, God bless this man.
About 2 weeks later I take Justin to their house to meet them and their AMAZING kids. On the ride home it’s dead silence. At his point I am panicked. Justin breaks the silence. ‘These are my kind of people.’ Cue sigh of relief. Let’s do this. All summer we spent every Monday night together having family dinners and any other free night we had, which united us in ways that only a transplant could. My daughter and their oldest are the best of friends, and my husband is now best friends with DJ. The bromance is real.
March 12th, 2018, was my first appointment. We are hyped. I should also mention no one in their right mind should ever let DJ and I go anywhere or do anything alone. Chaos and insanity ensue, and we are just two dysfunctional best friends that like to make a scene. And a scene we made. First stop, blood work. 17 tubes. I go lights out. Not sure how long I was out but it was long enough for 2 doctors and 3 nurses to be there when I woke up with a stretcher to take me to the ER where I spent the next 3 hours.
DJ: ‘You know you don’t have to do this anymore.’
Me: ‘Please just stop talking, I’m not going anywhere.’ The man was scared. He just saw his best friend pass out and not wake up for several minutes while people were frantically calling for help. He was carrying my purse (a sight I will never unsee.) The transplant department tells the ER to reschedule me. Great. I hope they got all the blood they would need.
March 26, 2018. My rescheduled appointment. Once again, there we are, making spectacles of ourselves and having the time of our lives while also being extremely hangry. We make it through this appointment and no more blood was needed (Bless). They tell us we will know our results in 7 days. Day 8, I can’t take it anymore. I call every number I have until I am finally met with a voice that can answer me. I will tell you right now I will not get through this next part without sobbing.
Me: ‘Hi, I know I am really annoying but I really want to know if I am a match to donate my kidney?’
Jonathan: ‘This is Danielle, isn’t it?’
Me: (knowing they are clearly still talking about ‘the girl who passed out’): ‘Yes, it’s me.’
Jonathan: ‘Ok, let me see…’
Jonathan: ‘Ok, you have the same blood type so that matches…’
Me: (can’t donate to him without that so we already knew that)…
Jonathan: ‘The antibodies are the main concern…’
Jonathan: ‘Well, it looks like you… are… a match.’
Me: Sobbing. (I hit my knees in my kitchen. Just sobbing)
Jonathan: ‘I will give you a minute… I love giving news to people like you.’
Me: (Still sobbing) ‘Go ahead.’
Jonathan: (all I hear at this point is Charlie Brown’s teacher, he could have told me absolutely anything at this point and I could only hear in my head ‘you’re a match.’)
I hang up from Jonathan and immediately text Kari.
Me: ‘Are you with DJ?’
Kari: ‘No, he’s at work, and I am already crying. (She knew)
Me: ‘No, I just didn’t want to tell you both the same thing is all.’ (obviously lying)
I facetime her. It was written all over my face and we immediately lose it. All of it. We sobbed together without a word for about 10 minutes before we both stopped and said, ‘We have to tell him, tonight. We cannot hold this information from him.’
That night we held a fake photo shoot for my family concealing a sign to surprise DJ that said, ‘I’m a match.’ Guys, I get to save my best friend’s life. DJ was in total shock that I was a match. I mean what are the odds that your best friend gets to give you their kidney and is a perfect match in every way?
Photo Credit: LoveWhatMatters