Once again, a phone call in the middle of the day as I sit at my desk. I recognize the number; my stomach drops. This can’t be good. Two weeks ago, unable to wait a second longer for an update, I emailed the donor center. “We have no news about a delay in collection,” they answered. So I began to count down the days, imagining what DVDs I’d watch during those hours when I wouldn’t have use of my hands. I began to smile all the time. Suddenly it didn’t matter what else happened in the world; life was good.
I pick up the phone: a familiar neutral but cheery voice. “I’m so sorry, but your recipient had a relapse.” Catch-22: the illness has to be grave enough to require a transplant, but not so bad that the process will kill her. It’s not cancelled, however, just postponed to some unknown time. Am I still interested in donating? Of course. Thank you, we’ll keep you posted.
I knew this might happen—the possibility was mentioned on every sheet of donor literature I received—but I still feel horrible. I want her to be OK. I want to fix her. I have no idea who or where this woman is, whether she has a family, kids, is nice or mean, hopeful or desperate. All I do know is that God is being very annoying. I have something she needs—but now, all of a sudden, she can’t receive it. I guess life often works this way; we love someone but they’re not ready to reciprocate, or we possess talent but not means. But in most cases we can find tools to help us change and discover how to accept those gifts. In this instance, the recipient and I are both powerless. All we can do—all I can do—is be grateful that science and circumstance brought us this far, and that the story is not yet over.