Last night, I had the great pleasure to attend a beautiful gala event at The Rainbow Room in NYC. The scenery was sublime, the room set to the nines, and of course the glitz and glam were tastefully en-pointe. The setting was truly detailed to perfection and it was a rare opportunity to slough off the frumpy mommy and glam-up a bit with my handsome hubby. The days are long with three rambunctious boys so this night out was so timely and needed. This busy momma was in dire need of a breathe of fresh air and what could be better than a fancy night out in a fabulous town at a top-notch venue with your best guy on your arm and being footloose and KID FREE?
How about some tear-inducing inspiration that makes your heart burst with pride and awestruck emotion?
The night was a Gala Awards show hosted by National Kidney Registry. My husband has worked for them for years and I've seen the growth that they have undergone from my limited vantage point. Their elevator pitch mission statement is to save and improve the lives of people facing kidney failure by increasing the quality, speed, and number of living donor transplants in the world. It's a mouthful, ain't it!
But last night's function showed a deeper soul to that lofty goal. Garet Hil, the founder
and president of the organization, began Kidney Registry after encountering the challenges in finding a match for his daughter, then age 10. He was spurred to action to create a NEW system whereby people in need of a Kidney had another option beyond partial matches from a cadaver donor after lengthy wait-lists. By using LIVING donors, NKR has been creating chains across the country and better/faster matches have been possible. That means more lives have been not only saved, but are thriving post-transplant. Moreover, NKR is doing it WELL! The graft survival statistics are showing dramatic improvements as the years go by! And if you think THAT is inspiring, allow me to circle back around to last night's Gala event.
The Gala, fancy as it was, was not simply a soiree' opportunity at hob-nobbery. This was intentional. It was purposeful. It could have been a fundraising schmooze-fest one might expect at a location so well adorned. However, this was a night DEDICATED solely to gratitude and acknowledgment of the Donors and the participating vendors and ancillary services who helped make it all possible. A whole evening dedicated to honor SELFLESS souls who just wanted to help. It spoke VOLUMES to me, that a company finding the success that National Kidney Registry has, would dedicate the resources and time to such a huge event simply for the chance to say.....thanks.
Of the donors who attended, some had a person who inspired them out of need, some simply wanted to be altruistic and give. But all of them wanted to offer forward the good health they had been blessed with, to help bless another who was in dire need. These selfless souls gave in the most tangible of ways, an organ, a KIDNEY! While they had good health and life to live they volunteered to freely give and in so doing they Kick-started CHAINS of donations. Some as long as 14 or 15 people long. Whole chains of donors and the recipients who received life-saving surgeries. There was no limitations placed on age or creed or location around the country....the list of people saved thru the willing donations was powerful. One was a baby, just age 1. Talk about making a mama cry! One gentlemen spoke of his heart to freely donate. Already a good man, father to many, faith-filled and advocate in his own right, he wanted to go further, do more, and in so doing, SAVED A LIFE. I just wanted to hug each and every donor that spoke last night and I'll confess I looked misty-eyed at my husband and said, I WANNA DO THAT! It was powerful to hear THEM tell the stories of their individual tales. The common thread being, they simply loved the process and several said they would do it AGAIN if they could have because of how the GIVING blessed them! Let me repeat that for you. DONORS who gave a kidney to save a life spoke of how the act BLESSED THEM. Selfless! Sacrificial and selfless and they had my heart bursting.
But the night didn't stop at honoring the donors. Garet and his leadership team dug deeper to also acknowledge the very many people and organizations along the way who had to work together to make these donor/recipient chains happen. this is where I began to swell with more pride than I thought possible. I knew my husband's small piece of the puzzle within National Kidney Registry, but to see the reach beyond his work to all the ancillary services was staggering. For me, I think of a transplant in terms of the medical drama's shown on prime time TV. A shallow approximation, obviously, but having been blessed with the health to not NEED to know more, thus was my very limited perspective. But the Gala showcased Transplant coordinators, medical boards, surgeons, hospital logistics, organ transportation, donor care services, recipient care, documentation transfers and more. Literally donors and recipeints were located ALL across the USA even out unto the Hawaiian islands! For every ONE beautiful person willing to donate there must have been 10-20 different people ready to step up and tackle the huge administrative and logistical challenges that would inevitably occur...even unto personal document deliveries at hotels late at night and potentially getting a car towed. TRUE STORY.
The business of human organ transportation is not an easy one, folks, and the people behind the scenes deserve every award and accolade offered. CERTAINLY awards should be giving for the actual NKR team who may have been the only ones who DIDN'T get an award. My very limited bubble of being the lucky wife riding in the side-car, gives me the opportunity to get to know a few of the National Kidney Registry team personally. Two of them have donated themselves. Talk about SKIN IN THE GAME! Without a doubt I believe every member of NKR MEANS IT when they say to donors, WE'VE GOT YOUR BACK! These people work TIRELESSLY and the gala event alone was a herculean team of dedicated people right down to Garet's own wife, Jan, who inspired the evening and made sure the donors in attendance felt like royalty!
Far beyond the fancy night out I was excited to enjoy, I was HONORED to just sit and watch as all
the moving pieces came together in one evening. Truly it was a site to behold. If last nights event showed me anything it's that they will NO DOUBT one day reach their stated vision and see that "every incompatible or poorly compatible living donor in the world will pass through a common registry and find a well matched living donor in under six months." If you have never heard of the Kidney Registry, I can't stress enough how much you should take the time to have a
look. It was built on the inspiration of change. But it's now THRIVING on the hard-work of self-sacrifice and benevolence...and it's future surely burns bright as it storms into the breach and tries to save more lives with each passing day.
you can find out MORE about National Kidney Registry at:
or at their various social media locations: