feel-good storyMost of us appreciate a feel-good story. The holiday season is replete with feel-good stories of generosity and kind gestures. Well, have I got a feel-good story for you! This morning while searching my computer files, I ran across a 2012 CNN article about a 27-year-old man from Arlington Heights, Ill.

Ray Fearing had waited 10 years for a kidney transplant, growing dangerously ill from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a disease that scars the kidney tissue and interferes with the organ filtering out harmful substances.

In June 2011, Ray’s sister, Cera, donated her own kidney to her ill brother. But within a few days after the transplant surgery, doctors discovered that Ray’s gifted kidney was now deteriorating from the FSGS. Ray’s abdomen was filling with blood and the kidney needed to be removed immediately. 

Starting to Lose Hope

When Ray learned of this disappointing news, he lamented, “I just curled inward and started losing all hope. It was not an easy time.” Man. I know some of us understand all too well what it feels like to curl inward and lose all hope. It is never an easy time when we reach that degree of a bending point.

But as with us, there is more to the story. Ray’s nephrologist, Dr. Lorenzo Gallon, realized that once the donated kidney was removed, it was still viable. What if someone else could use Cera’s donated kidney?

In what scientists describe as a medical first, doctors removed Ray’s transplanted organ and he donated the transplanted kidney to another grateful patient, 67-year-old Dr. Erwin Gomez. “There are thousands of people waiting for organs, I couldn’t see myself just discarding one,” said Ray after his kidney-removal surgery.

Because of Ray’s altruistic organ donation gift, Dr. Gomez, a cardiovascular surgeon, could return to work and spend more cherished time with his grandchildren. When Dr. Gomez later met Ray and Cera, the surgeon who repairs people’s hearts praised Ray’s kind-hearted act. “I feel bad for him because his misfortune is my gain. I’m completely grateful to them for considering re-transplanting that kidney,” Dr. Gomez explained. “. . . I owe them eternal gratitude.”

Helping Someone Else

Of Ray’s re-gifting of the kidney, Dr. Gallon adds, “He had the strength to say ‘Let’s help someone else.’ That gesture has more weight than words.”

Ray’s life-giving generosity lends a fresh perspective this Christmas season when we can feel pressured by the holiday hustle and bustle and temptation to spend, spend, spend. Perhaps Ray’s story invites us to remember that giving to others is an everyday privilege and some gifts truly do come without a price tag.

And for the rest of this feel-good story? I found Ray on Facebook and his post from a few weeks ago:

“So for anyone who doesn’t know yet, I received a kidney transplant on Thursday morning. They’ve been monitoring everything really closely and things have been looking really good so far. I’m being discharged from the hospital today and will continue keeping a close watch on my numbers. I want to thank everyone for their well wishes and I hope to see you all soon.”