A Single Decision to Save One Life Saves So Many More

May 24, 2017, 3:24pm EDT

By Sandra A. Pope
As we sit in the waiting room, we receive word they started working on the donor. In that moment, hope fills our hearts. We see light at the end of this difficult journey. There is an incredible human who made a selfless decision to donate a part of her body to a complete stranger not only saving his life, but so many more. Yet, she has no idea how many people she is saving.
When our dad got sick almost a year ago, our world came crashing down. For a month we stood by his side, slept in the hospital, spent hours in waiting rooms-like we are right now- anxiously waiting to hear that each one of his surgeries was successful and he was okay.
We never thought we’d be here. We’ve gone through rounds of testing, raised awareness of his condition, and prayed we would find a donor to save his life. We did everything we could to find a match but were unsuccessful in our searches. It was painful to watch my dad’s quality of life decline and see him come home soaked in blood after another round of dialysis. Even at 70, he still had hopes and dreams, it was unfair to watch them come to an end. Then one day we received a call that a young, altruistic donor decided to become a living donor and she was a match for our father.
Who is she? I wish I knew. I want to find her, hug her, kiss her, and thank her. Our dad is the center of our universe and family. Our world legitimately does not exist without him; she is not only saving his life but all of ours. If his life would end, so would ours. It is that simple. She is giving him his life back. She is giving us more memories with our father, and giving him more time to watch his grandchildren grow up. There are no amount of words to describe the amount of gratitude we feel.
It doesn’t end there. What’s the ultimate way to pay it forward? Save a life. In a month, our amazing mother is donating her kidney to someone else in need. And that patient’s family member is donating their kidney to another person on the list. And the cycle continues. We have no idea when the cycle will end (I hope it never does). Maybe it will continue to save every person on the kidney transplant list. Maybe not. All that matters is it was started by a single decision one person made to save a life.
Whoever you are out there- you are an angel. I don’t know you but I love you so much. Thank you.
Dr. Adnan Abla is a neurosurgeon in Pittsburgh, PA, who was diagnosed with kidney failure last summer. He received a kidney from an anonymous donor via a paired donation (or a donor chain). His daughter Sandra wrote the above while in the waiting room during his transplant surgery. Dr. Abla is featured to the left of Sandra (in the wedding gown) in the photo.