I’ve always dreamed of making a difference.
It sounds corny, but it’s true. How I would do this, however, has remained a mystery until the beginning of this semester.
I decided the most selfless act I could do for another person is give a part of me to somebody else — literally. My friend’s father has been in need of a bone marrow transplant for several months now. I had no idea what the process was, but I reached out to him anyway.
It turned out giving away your bone marrow is quite the lengthy process, and there’s no controlling who receives your bone marrow. After some research, I registered with bethematch.org, the world’s largest online marrow registry. I received all the testing materials in the mail a week later, swabbed my cheeks and sent my DNA back to the organization.
A month went by before I was placed on the donor list. Because the recipient requires almost a perfect match, donors may be called tomorrow or within weeks, years or never.
I’m still waiting.
The other day, however, I received an invitation to like a Facebook page from a brother of my fraternity who helped recharter our organization on campus. His mother was born with one kidney, which is currently failing as I’m writing this. She needs a donor by next winter.
I messaged him and asked if Brenda was his mother. It was indeed. I told him I would be willing to be tested to see if my kidney would be a compatible match for her body. Considering it’s not often that someone volunteers to do something like this, my brother was quite astonished.
My explanation was simple: I’ve always wanted to do something selfless for another person, especially if it benefited a brother in need. What he said in response made me extremely emotional.
“This would be more important. It would be to help a mother in need. And we all know without mothers, there are no brothers.”
Without mothers, there are no brothers.
If my mother were in this same predicament, I sure as hell hope somebody would offer to help. I can’t imagine life without my mother.
As a matter of fact, she was the first person I called in search of advice. Being the worried and concerned mother she is, she was skeptical about my desire to help. After all, what if I were to donate my kidney and later on down the road that one kidney started to fail? Or what if my biological family or future children needed a transplant? There would be nothing I could do besides pray. Pray that somebody like myself came along.
What many people fail to understand is when you join a fraternity, “brother” is a term that is not taken lightly. Their family is your family. You enter a world of love and support. And that’s a feeling that will never disappear.
I’ve been preparing myself for this process by educating myself. I’ve been reading, listening to interviews from donors and even watching videos of live kidney transplants in the middle of the library. It’s gruesome stuff, but I’m ready for it.
I’m ready for the anesthesia, the scalpel and the foot-long scar I will receive on the side of my body. It will be a constant reminder of the time I saved a life and allowed my brother to hopefully have his mother around for many more years.
I may not have two kidneys in the future, but I will leave two individuals incredibly blessed that I had the literal guts to go through with this.
Email Chris Burek at firstname.lastname@example.org