ONE MIRACLE AT A TIME

ONE MIRACLE AT A TIME

From Chicken Soup for the African American Soul

One Miracle at a Time

Remember, luck is opportunity meeting up with preparation, so you must prepare yourself to be lucky.

Gregory Hines

In July 1996, I began to lose weight rapidly and was not eating much. I lost so much weight my clothes began to fall off of me. The following November, I experienced a migraine headache for the first time, and it scared me. I went to the doctor to have it checked out.

A week later my nephrologist told me that I had end-stage renal disease. My kidneys were failing and I had to have emergency surgery to be prepared for dialysis— either hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.

I went home and jumped on the computer to research renal disease. I discovered that end-stage renal disease is when the kidney does not filter out the waste products in your body. It allows the waste to get into your bloodstream and causes toxicity. Once this happens, a person will eventually die if preventive measures are not taken, such as dialysis or a kidney transplant. I joined the National Kidney Foundation and did research on dialysis. I found out that over 150,000 patients on dialysis with ESRD are awaiting a transplant either from a live donor or a cadaver.

I soon went on dialysis and started the search for a kidney donor. I continued to live my life to the fullest. I traveled, played softball and enjoyed my life as much as I possibly could.

Then in December 2000, I did something that would change my life forever: I enrolled in a three-part series of self-development courses. The first class allowed me to discover who I truly am and understand what I am all about. I was able to come to grips with my relationship with my son and realized what I could do to make that relationship stronger.

The second class of this series took place in February 2001. I wanted to take the class, but wasn’t ready to shell out the $650 it was going to cost. However, God works in mysterious ways, and something just told me to hand over the credit card and take the class. So reluctantly, I agreed.

Once inside the class, I noticed approximately a hundred people of all races, creeds and colors. I was quite comfortable in the class, but one of the requirements presented a dilemma. The instructor said that no one in the class would receive credit until we were all in attendance for four consecutive days. That meant arriving at 9:00 A.M. and staying until midnight, which created a problem for me because I had to go to dialysis the very next morning at 5:30 A.M. and would not be able to make it to class until after 10:00 A.M.

I had to address the class and notify them of my situation. I let them know that I was a kidney patient and had to do dialysis every Friday morning. At the break, several participants asked me about dialysis and kidney failure. When I explained my condition to them, they were astonished because they said that I did not look sick. My reply to them was that, “Sickness is a state of mind.”

During the next few days, people in the class continued to inquire about kidney disease and my condition. On the last day of the class, a student named Patricia Abdullah asked me if I was on the donor list.

I told her, “Yes, because no one in my family was a match, I have been searching for five years to find a donor.”

She said to me, “Wouldn’t it be great if our class found you a kidney?”

I said, “Sure it would,” but I heard that all the time. I knew that she was just being sentimental but that her heart was in the right place. I often heard similar remarks from concerned people who did not necessarily know what to say because they did not know what I was experiencing. I knew that Patricia was like these people—kind and cordial. So I left it at that.

On that last day, we each had to address the class and attempt to explain who we really were and what we stood for as individuals. After I had my turn to speak, I proceeded to leave the class. About two minutes later, one of the assistants in the class yelled at me to come back because Patricia was getting the class involved in finding me a kidney.

I rushed back to hear Patricia say to the class, “Before I speak, I would like to get the class involved in the possibility of helping Mike Jones find a kidney.”

The class applauded in agreement, and the course leader said that could be the project for our third class of the series. I could not believe what had happened! I felt elated as I was sent back up to the front of the room to address the class. All I could do was just stand there and cry. It was hard to believe that three days prior we did not even know each other, and now this class of ninety-five people was coming together to help me find a kidney donor. The power and the love in that room just overwhelmed me. The class gave me a standing ovation as I broke down. It was truly an amazing moment.

The next session was the final class in the self-development course. All ninety-five participants showed up on that first day eager to fulfill our project. But there was a problem. Our new instructor said that we could not do that assignment as our main project. He said that everyone had to create their own individual project and work solely on that. I was extremely upset because that was not what we were told in the previous class. Some of the other classmates felt the same way. I was livid and ready to drop out of the class altogether because I felt that I was misled to take this class.

Again, something told me to stay in the class and fulfill my commitment to this group of individuals. You see, I have a thing about keeping my word and having integrity. If I say I am going to do something, then I have to honor that commitment. Since we had to pick our own project, I chose to make folks aware of what it takes to be an organ donor—how they can affect the lives of other people, whether it is by giving the gift of life by being an organ donor, donating blood to help save lives, or being a bone marrow donor so the platelets in your blood can help save a child who may be in need.

Another one of our assignments was learning how to make unreasonable requests. I admitted that I rarely asked for things because it becomes a pride issue for me.

One of my classmates responded by saying, “But Mike, if you had asked for a kidney, maybe you would have one right now.”

I said, “True, all they can tell me is no.” I explained to him and another classmate that because of my “O” positive blood type a donor and I had to be a perfect match.

As the class came to a close that day, Patricia Abdullah approached me and said, “Mike, I am ‘O’ positive.”

I looked at her and said, “That’s nice, so am I.”

She looked at me again and said to me, “Mike, I am ‘O’ positive. Make an unreasonable request of me.”

And then it hit me; I was speechless for a moment because I felt that the Lord was saying something to me through Patricia. I then walked up to her, put my hand on her side and said, “Patricia, may I have one of your kidneys?”

She looked at me and said, “Sure, what do I need to do?”

The next morning while I was at dialysis, I received a phone call from Patricia. She told me that she had contacted UCLA and was on her way to get tested. I just prayed that it would be successful.

We did not hear anything about her tests for several weeks. Figuring that was a bad sign, I was disappointed but thanked Patricia anyway for the thought and told her that I would not forget what she had attempted to do. However, UCLA did finally call on Friday of that fifth week and ask her to come back in for more tests. Patricia was confused because we had assumed that we were not a match. The nurse at UCLA said that was not the case. She said that they needed to run more tests to verify their results because the initial test results said that we were a PERFECT match!

A “perfect match” means that the donor and the patient are an exact match in every test that is run—blood-type testing, tissue-type testing and antibody testing. Our test compatibility was six for six, which is perfect. The only thing better is an identical twin from the same cell.

Here is another miracle that shows how the Lord works in mysterious ways. After all the testing was complete and the results were confirmed, the surgery was set for September 11, 2001—the day of the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania—and our story just happened to be timely with the events.

Ms. Patricia Abdullah is Irish, Scottish, German, Italian, Welsh, Hawaiian and Arab. She is also a converted Muslim. I am African American, Irish and Creole. Our story gained media attention because the September 11 attacks had raised the profile of the Muslim faith. Fox Television even contacted Patricia for an exclusive interview.

The media was drawn to our story because there was so much diversity surrounding the surgery. We had a white Muslim woman donating a kidney to an African American Christian in a Jewish hospital with a German, South African and Jewish surgical team performing the operation. Talk about a rainbow coalition of people coming together to give the gift of life!

I believe this is proof that we are all God’s children. We are all the same on the inside, just different shades on the outside. How else can two people from totally different backgrounds be the perfect match where the only thing closer is an identical twin sibling from the same cell?

I hope that this miracle will help raise awareness worldwide and encourage others to make a difference in someone’s life by giving the gift of life—by being a blood, organ or bone marrow donor.

I have been truly blessed to receive this ultimate gift of life. I truly thank Ms. Patricia Abdullah for giving me the ultimate gift that a person can give. Patricia is my sister, and I will love her and cherish her forever. We are taking a dual family photo to show how life has affected two families, two races, two religions and one God.

Mike Jones

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