Just to bring you up to date on how my story originally started back on Friday, October 7, 2011, I had a straightforward surgical procedure to repair my torn left shoulder rotator cuff but I nearly died from a bacterial infection I acquired during that routine surgery. The pain was substantial throughout the weekend and by Monday night I was crumpled on the floor of my home, seizing and barely able to move. The bacterial infection had sent me into septic shock, shutting down both my kidneys and making my blood pressure plummet.
I was eventually transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital, where I spent a week in a medically induced coma and months of inpatient care. I emerged from the crisis but my kidneys had been irreparably damaged and I remained in end-stage renal failure undergoing 12 hours of dialysis every week until the time of my kidney transplant surgery on April 2, 2013.
I was close to death, the priest was there, the kids were called back home from college — they didn’t think I was going to make it. Slowly I stabilized but I spent over 3-1/2 months at Massachusetts General Hospital in dire straits. All of 2012 was spent in and out of MGH, enduring procedure after procedure but I improved to the point where I could begin looking ahead to what my options were spending a life with end stage renal failure. Finally in October of 2012 I was placed in the donor list.
My sisters wanted to donate a kidney, but were medically disqualified during screening. That meant an agonizing 4 to 8 long years waiting on a transplant list.
On Jan. 1, 2013 I decided the New Year called for a new, more proactive approach, and I turned to the internet and Facebook for help. After only 90 minutes of starting Eddie’s Kidney Kampaign I stumbled on the website of The Living Kidney Donor Network and began reading about how to begin a Kidney Kampaign (LKDN always spells their campaign with a K) and saw a posting just hours old by a woman from California who said she wanted to donate a kidney. I sent the woman, 44-year-old Newport Beach resident Kelly Wright, a message explaining my circumstances. I had nothing to lose. The worst thing that could happen is she would ignore me.
Kelly replied 10 minutes later. A flurry of communication ensued and by the next afternoon she was calling Mass. General to begin the screening process. She passed; their surgeries were performed on April 2 with great success.
This is Kelly and my first communication on Facebook on January 1st, 2013, one and a half hours after I began this Kidney Kampaign;
“Just registered to be a living kidney donor to an unknown recipient. A little scared but hopeful about saving a life!”
Eddie Beatrice: “ You are a very brave and giving person. I am a 51 year old male from North Reading, MA. I am married to Julie for over 22 years and have two college age children; Steven, 21 and Christie, 18. Complications from rotator cuff surgery on my shoulder led me to septic shock and a near death experience in October of 2011. I spent over 3.5 months at Mass General Hospital after coma and life support. Besides severe ischemic colitis I also suffer end stage renal failure and require dialysis 3 days / 12 hours per week. My blood type is A+. I would love to be considered to be a recipient to receive your kidney. Please contact me if I might be considered and we can arrange a time to speak. Respectfully, Eddie.” : 1 January at 16:50 · Like · 1
Kelly Wright: “Hi Eddie, I am O+ blood type, I think I am a universal donor. I am awaiting paperwork from my doctor to assure I am able to donate. I certainly will help if a can!”
In March The Boston Globe caught wind of it…….
And after that it went national……
Now I will be the first person to tell you that the circumstances of how quickly I found my living kidney donor are a rarity so much so that it just very well may be the one in a million chance of a lifetime. To locate the perfect match within 90 minutes of beginning a campaign just doesn’t happen…….but it did. And don’t think any less of yourself that it can’t also happen to you. But you need to create opportunities, have constant faith and approach it with the mindset that you have nothing to lose….because you literally don’t. It is very much a life and death situation. Approach it with passion and always keep a positive attitude. Keep moving forward and keep an eagle eye out for that next opportunity. That is exactly what I did. I figured that if I hesitated and did not immediately respond to Kelly’s initial post on January 1st someone else would seize that opportunity first. And I was right because within minutes of Kelly and I corresponding, as you read above, another person commented that she too was in need of a kidney transplant as well.
I began my campaign by researching, reading and educating myself on starting a campaign and how to best contact living kidney donors. From there I went on Facebook to find the websites that I favored the most and “Liked” them because I figured that was the best way to consistently receive up-to-date information on a daily basis and I certainly was correct about that. New Years Day was the perfect day to start the campaign because it is THE day for resolutions and fresh beginnings and I was more apt to stumble across other people committing to a fresh start as well.
The best advice I can offer is for you to Network, Network, Network. Make friends with anyone and everyone. Start a Facebook / Twitter page and request that everyone “Like” your page. Then ask them to “Share” your posts and page so that more people will be able to view your page. Maybe, just maybe, a friend of a friend of a friend will stumble across your post, the timing will be right and it will be all that person needed to finally decide to go for it and become a living kidney donor and save another human being's life. Offer to help other people in their quest and hopefully they will pay it forward and help you. Get involved in organizations and groups such as KidneyBuzz.com and The Living Kidney Donor Network who’s founder, Harvey Mysel, has quoted; Finding a kidney donor is “like looking for a job, it’s all about networking.”
I wish the best of luck and prayers for all of you. God Bless.
Eddie Beatrice is the founder of Eddie' Kidney Kampagin