From A Second Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul

A Miracle of Love

My grandson, Daniel, and I have always been very close. When Daniel’s father remarried after a divorce, Daniel, who was eleven, and his little sister, Kristie, came to live with us. My husband and I were more than happy to have kids in the house again.

Things were going along just fine until the diabetes I’ve lived with most of my adult life started affecting my eyes, and then more seriously, my kidneys. Then everything seemed to fall apart.

Three times a week, I had to go to the hospital to be hooked up to a dialysis machine. I was living, but I couldn’t really call it a life—it was an existence. I had no energy. I dragged myself through my daily chores and slept as much as I could. My sense of humor seemed to disappear.

Daniel, seventeen by then, was really affected by the change in me. He tried as hard as he could to make me laugh, to bring back the grandma who loved to clown around with him. Even in my sorry state, Daniel could still bring a smile to my face.

But things were not improving. After a year on dialysis, my condition was deteriorating and the doctors felt that if I didn’t receive a kidney transplant within six months, I would surely die. No one told Daniel this, but he knew— he said all he had to do was look at me. To top it off, as my condition worsened, there was a chance I would become too weak to have the transplant surgery at all, and then there would be nothing they could do for me. So we started the tense and desperate wait for a kidney.

I was adamant that I didn’t want a kidney from anyone I knew. I would wait until an appropriate kidney became available, or I would literally die waiting. But Daniel had other plans. The times that he took me to my dialysis appointments, he did a little secret research on his own. Then he announced his intentions to me.

“Grandma, I’m giving you one of my kidneys. I’m young and I’m healthy. . . . He paused. He could see I wasn’t at all happy with his offer. He continued, almost in a whisper, “And most of all, I couldn’t stand it if you weren’t around.” His face wore an expression of appeal mixed with determination. He can be as stubborn as a mule once he decides on something—but I’ve been told many times that I can out-stubborn any mule!

We argued. I couldn’t let him do it. We both knew that if he gave up his kidney, he’d also give up his life’s dream: to play football. That boy ate, drank and slept football. It was all he ever talked about. And he was good, too. Daniel was co-captain and star defensive tackle of his high school team; he expected to apply for a football scholarship and was looking forward to playing college football. He just loved the sport.

“How can I let you throw away the thing that means the most to you?” I pleaded with him.

“Grandma,” he said softly, “compared to your life, football means nothing to me.”

After that, I couldn’t argue anymore. So we agreed to see if he was a good donor match, and then we’d discuss it further. When the tests came back, they showed Daniel was a perfect match. That was it. I knew I wasn’t going to win that argument, so we scheduled the transplant.

Both surgeries went smoothly. As soon as I came out of the anesthesia, I could tell things were different. I felt great! The nurses in the intensive care unit had to keep telling me to lie back and be quiet—I wasn’t supposed to be that lively! I was afraid to go to sleep, for fear I would break the spell and wake up the way I had been before. But the good feeling didn’t go away, and I spent the evening joking and laughing with anyone who would listen. It was so wonderful to feel alive again!

The next day, they moved me out of ICU and onto the floor where Daniel was recuperating three doors away. His grandfather helped him walk down to see me as soon as I was moved into my room. When we saw each other, we didn’t know what to say. Holding hands, we just sat there and looked at each other for a long time, overwhelmed by the deep feeling of love that connected us.

Finally, he spoke. “Was it worthwhile, Grandma?”

I laughed a little ruefully. “It was for me! But was it for you?” I asked him.

He nodded and smiled at me. “I’ve got my grandma back.”

And I have my life back. It still amazes me. Every morning, when I wake up, I thank God—and Daniel—for this miracle. A miracle born of the purest love.

Shirlee Allison

[EDITORS’ NOTE: As a result of Daniel’s selfless gift, he was chosen as the nation’s Most Courageous Student Athlete and flown to Disney World for the awards ceremony. While there, he met Bobby Bowden, coach of Florida State University’s football team, the Seminoles. Daniel told Coach Bowden that he was an avid Seminoles fan and that it had always been his dream to be a Seminole. Bowden was so moved by this that he decided to make the young man’s dream come true. At the time of this writing, Daniel is a student at FSU—on a full scholarship—and is a trainer for the university’s football team, a highly valued member of the Seminoles.]

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