This is a story about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is a story about finding new family. It’s about chasing your dreams and following your heart, even when everything seems stacked against you.
It’s a new life, in more ways than one.
They would call me a hero, but all I could see was a failing mom who couldn’t even provide for her own children. They said I saved a life with my decision to donate. What most people don’t know, is that it actually saved MY own life as well.
Homeless to Hero: My Living Kidney Donor Journey
It’s the second anniversary of the date of our surgery – Friday the 13th – and I am pleased to announce the release of my book about the experience. Revamped and expanded from a previous version written immediately after surgery, this book tells the untold story.
There are very few people on this earth who know what I was actually going through when I made the decision to donate my kidney to Jody. Those who did know thought I was crazy. Some even suggested I shouldn’t do it, or that it wasn’t the “right time”.
A very specific set of fortuitous events happened to allow me to be able to give this gift at a time in my life where I worried how I’d be able to buy groceries that week.
A Bad Relationship Ends and A New Life Begins
In August 2015, I moved with my five children to New Jersey to start a new life. We’d been homeless since February 2015, leaving everything we owned back in Texas in storage and bringing one small bag a piece, my computer (so I could work), our dog, and my son’s fish in a Dodge Caravan and trying to regroup after their father left us.
In the months that followed, we would grow closer as a family, heal in the abuses we had suffered from that negative relationship, mourn the things we had left behind and the things we had lost forever, and we’d chase our dreams to the other side of the country.
If I hadn’t been less than an hour away from NYC, I likely wouldn’t have considered testing to see if I was a match when I heard a fellow writer needed a kidney. If I had still been back in Texas, it wouldn’t have been practical to leave all my kids alone to go to NYC for surgery, but here I was… just a hop away.
The Secret Struggle of a Single Mom
We may have appeared happy enough on the outside, but my family was struggling. I’d moved to a more expensive place to try to give my kids a better life. One piece of bad luck after another meant I was struggling to put food on the table. More than once I had to borrow money from my friend to pay rent. We went from sleeping on the hard floor to sleeping on air mattresses, to eventually sleeping on beds found on Freecycle. Dishes, silverware, bath towels, extra clothing… all those household things you take for granted, we had to acquire all over again. So when the surgery date happened in April, it was only 8 months after starting our new life. I was struggling, in more ways than I realized at the time.
One close friend would say to me, “Lisa, maybe you should pack up this whole dream and just go live someplace cheaper. I don’t think this is working out.”
It wasn’t a terrible suggestion, but my kids needed stability. I had a lease. And where would I even go? We were committed. And so I fought. I fought to keep our house, to keep the lights on, and to keep food on the table. We got by with little and we made it work.
When the time came for me to give my kidney, there’s literally nothing else I could have given someone. I had no money, all of our personal belongings were back in Texas, our furniture was sold. The van we moved in even broke down the week before the surgery happened. The last memory my kids had of their old life… the only vehicle I had to get them around in…. and the only thing I actually owned anymore, and it was damaged beyond reasonable repair. So now, I wasn’t even going to have a car.
I had always considered myself an optimist but my positive spirit was dying with that van.
Still, I had the opportunity to SAVE A LIFE! That’s a big deal, right?
Just Going For It!
So, I made the decision to do it. I did all the tests and through each phase, I was a match, until the very end and we had scheduled a date. It was to happen fast, too, and right before my youngest daughter’s birthday. I scrambled to make arrangements, never once doubting my decision, however.
I did it, even though people said I shouldn’t.
I did it, even though I didn’t know how I would pay my rent the following month.
I did it, even though my vehicle broke down.
I did it, even though I was scared about the direction of my life.
I did it, and I survived. So did she. Two years later, we’re both doing great. In this book, you’re going to learn about the surgery, you’re going to hear the details, and you’re going to know all you’ve ever wanted to know about the living donor process.
But what’s more important to me to share is my story of AFTER.
What happened after surgery? What happened when my landlord came a month later and said she wouldn’t be renewing my lease (at no fault of my own; she wanted to live there herself)? What happened when my children and I faced homelessness again? When my business was struggling to make the money it once did? When relationships were on the rocks and I felt more alone than ever before in my life?
Was it all going to fall apart again?
After I’d given literally all I had to give! After I had taken this leap of faith, accepted the risk, and given a part of my body to someone else?
I thought good things were supposed to happen to people who did good things. People were calling me a “hero” but I felt like the biggest loser in the world. I felt like giving up completely. On everything. Even on life itself.
Tha decision to donate my kidney and the series of events that would come after changed me. In so many ways, I became a new person. And THAT’S what this book is really all about.
Find out how I learned that the Universe didn’t hate me, God wasn’t trying to punish me, and how sometimes you have to reach the very bottom before you can truly see how high you can climb.
Thank you SO much for your support,