Six Degrees of Separation
Definition: Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet in six steps or fewer.
How cool is that whole theory? Recently, while talking with my coworker she asked me how I came to the decision to donate my son’s organs and if I ever heard from any of the recipients. Out of the 4 recipients, we received a heartfelt letter from one. I told her at the time, I was not ready to meet any of the recipients, however, I was touched by his letter and I carry it with me. She thought it would be nice if the connection was made, but understood my feelings. She then mentioned that a good friend of hers had received a kidney and since his transplant has done quite well and while he has contacted his donor’s family, he had not heard back and perhaps they felt the same as I. I then proceeded to share the letter we received and as I was handing it to her, we both thought it would be too much of a coincidence if the letter came from her friend. I have shared this letter with many people and there has never been a connection….what are the chances of that happening? Only the recipient’s first name is visible on the letter, as Life Connection did a good job of scratching out his last name. As soon as she opened the letter, saw his first name, read the contents, she was 100% positive it was her friend that had received my son’s kidney. By this time, we are both hugging and crying, I being happy for her friend and she being grateful for us. She encouraged me to make the contact before we continue with our celebration. Knowing the recipient was a friend of a friend, became more personal to me. So, after speaking with my family, I went through the channels to meet the recipient of my son’s right kidney. A meeting was set up a few weeks ago at a local restaurant.
Meeting a recipient is bittersweet, as I know, I’m only meeting him because my son is not here. Our son’s recipient was very acknowledging of this and wanted to know about his donor. The most important thing, he’s been enjoying excellent health and his dialysis days are behind him. He also expressed how well he was treated at UTMC during his operation. I had no idea his operation was performed here and by the same surgeon who performed my dad’s operation. Another connection! He tells me he comes to UTMC once a month for his labs, chances are we have crossed path. Which makes me wonder, if I’ve crossed paths with others? I’ve always made it a point to smile/nod at people. So now, I give an extra nod to the gentlemen in their 60′s as I know now, that one of them received my son’s left kidney, and he had 11 eleven children. An extra nod goes out to all the women in their 40′s, one of them received his pancreas. I think about the young woman with the 3 kids, who was ahead of me in line at the cafeteria a few months back, who got 1 cheeseburger to split amongst her children. With her permission I purchased 2 more cheeseburgers/fries, now I wonder, was she the one who received his lungs as she suffered with cystic fibrosis and did she finally get married? It was good that I responded to his letter. It was also good to know that at least two of the operations were performed here at UTMC. I’m proud to be a part of his life and UTMC’s family.
Next month will mark the second anniversary of my son’s death and the birth of my sixth grandchild. Like many of you, I still feel blessed. I bet there are a lot of “Six Degrees of Separation” stories lurking amongst the walls here at UTMC. Hopefully, they all have a good ending like mine.
Andrea Jacobs is the Administrative Secretary II/Marketing Coordinator for the Heart and Vascular Center at The University of Toledo Medical Center, a member of both the UTMC Marketing Group and an external marketing group, Team Leader for the Heart Walk and secretary for the Patient and Customer Engagement Service Excellence Team. She is proud to say that she was born and raised in Toledo. The biggest kept secret are the “chicken wings” at City Hall, tell Abe she sent you. Andrea’s career with UTMC began in 1988. Through the years she has worked in various departments and along with the many friends she has gained, she has gained a wealth of experience and the bottomless energy to learn more. She feels privilege to have been a part of the many changes at UTMC and excited about its future. Stay tuned for future blogs from her regarding “matters of the heart”. When she is not busy at work, you can find her out and about town with 1 or maybe all 6 of her grandkids in tow.
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