Wednesday was a big day. The Cleveland Clinic arranged for all three donors and all three recipients in our “daisy chain” to meet each other in person.
I had already met Papa Phil; he was the person for whom I donated even though we were not a match; because of my donation, he got a kidney from another donor. Where the kidney that I donated had gone was a mystery to me…until yesterday.
I got to meet Norman. And he got to meet me.
It was an emotional moment for both of us. Almost overwhelming. An amazing embrace of two strangers who now share something very special.
And it was all caught on tape! The Cleveland Clinic had brought us all together to film a kind of “promo” for the transplant program. Not only was it amazing to meet the guy who got the kidney that had been with me for 58 years, I got to meet the other two donors and the third recipient as well.
The time was brief because I had to run to teach a fitness class. On the way home, my wife read a letter from Norman and a card that his mother had written to me. Although I did not really get a chance to talk with either of them, I could tell that I was going to like them both.
Later in the day, we met at a local restaurant for dinner–all the donors, recipients, relatives, and Dr. Wee, the surgeon who made it all possible!
It was an unbelievable gathering as we all got to know each other. Not everyone was from Cleveland. We are a diverse group as well. We all come from different walks of life. And now, for as long as we live, we will be connected to each other by whatever forces brought us together and by a little organ that weighs less than half a pound.
I will never forget June 30, 2021. For Norman and me, it is the beginning of a relationship. We are now KBs (Kidney brothers). To paraphrase Jewish liturgy: I am grateful to God who brought me into life, sustained me, and allowed me to experience this sacred moment.