Love Your Neighbor
Matthew 16:24, Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me." Most of us struggle to do what Jesus asks of us if it involves suffering because who wants to suffer, right?! Now imagine willingly volunteering to pick up someone else's painful cross, a decision that will significantly disrupt your daily life, but in doing so, you'll save another. This summer, I witnessed an amazing example of a faithful disciple of Christ saying yes to His call. It is a true testament to what God means when he tells us to love our neighbor.
Kate Reynolds is an intervention specialist who works with children with autism at a Catholic elementary school in Dayton, Ohio. One day after school last winter, Kate passed by her coworker Megan's office and heard her crying. Kate knocked on the door and asked her what was wrong. Megan quietly explained that her doctor told her she was in end-stage renal failure and needed a kidney transplant. Megan was born with kidney disease, and without a transplant, she would die. Megan's younger brother was just 27 years old when he died of the same illness. Kate immediately asked Megan what she needed to do to apply to be a donor. Megan and her husband have 5-year-old twin boys, and Kate pictured her own children at that age. She knew how much those boys needed their mother.
A few months later, after undergoing multiple tests, Kate discovered she had the same blood type as Megan. Out of all the people who applied to help, Kate was the closest to becoming Megan's kidney donor! Finding an exact match takes months, sometimes years, so after much prayer and discernment, Kate decided to continue with more testing to see if she was healthy enough to be a donor. She didn't tell Megan because she didn't want to get her hopes up if it turned out she wasn't a match. Meanwhile, Megan continued kidney dialysis three times a week while desperately praying for a donor.
This past May, Kate received the devastating news that Megan's fragile antibodies would not accept Kate's kidney. Although Kate was a close match, she wasn't a "perfect" one. However, the people at the National Kidney Registry told Kate if she donated her kidney to a needy stranger, Megan would be promised a new kidney within a year. The average wait time for a new kidney is three to five years.
Kate had to pray about her next steps. Should she undergo this painful surgery to give her kidney to someone she didn't know so that her friend could move up the line? Kate was given many opportunities to change her mind. Megan had no idea Kate was this far along in the process, and no pressure was applied by the doctors and nurses involved. Living organ donors undergo rigorous testing to ensure they are healthy enough to donate, so during this time of testing, Kate prayed to God, "if You allow me to keep going, then I have no question this is Your will."
On July 27th, Kate underwent a 4-hour surgery to remove one of her kidneys. Her healthy organ was immediately flown to Georgia to save the life of her "perfect match" kidney recipient. The day after her surgery, Kate called Megan from the hospital to tell her the good news. Because of Kate's yes, a second chance at life was given to a stranger in Georgia, and as Megan described it to Kate on the phone, "You gave us back our hope."
Kate is recovering at home right now, and so far, it has been a painful and unpredictable journey. As Christians, we know Jesus didn't come to earth to end human suffering; He came to change it. Our suffering is so powerful when combined with His. An inspiring story like this produces ripple effects. Some who have heard it or witnessed it first-hand are now considering becoming organ donors. Maybe you will consider checking the box on your driver's license the next time you renew. You, too, could save lives and reduce the waiting times for those who need an organ. Kate says someday she'd love to meet the person in Georgia who has her kidney if that person would like to meet her. Right now, she's focused on her recovery and is content to leave it in God's hands according to His will.
Written by: Jen Creter
Kate Reynolds’ proud sister
Jennifer is a freelance writer and editor in Huntersville, NC. Jen has been married to her husband Tom for 22 years, and they have two adult sons. The highlight of their summer was going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and walking in Jesus' footsteps.