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Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

A Thankful Yet Sad Day

Posted Monday, May 21, 2012, at 3:09 PM

May 21 each year I feel thankful and blessed, yet sad, for all the day means to me.

Twenty years ago today I received a kidney transplant at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. That is the thankful and blessed part of this day.

The sad part is a 34-year-old man had died on the night of May 20. All I know is that he was obviously a person who wanted to help others live better in the event that he should die. That says a lot for him. I worry many days about his family.

One who receives a transplant may write to the family of the donor and that letter is passed on to them. It is up to the family as to whether they wish to reply. I've never heard from the family.

On that morning 20 years ago I was at work at the Times-Gazette and received a call that Vanderbilt had a kidney available for transplant, the donor had my blood type and I should get there as soon as possible.

After taking a blood sample from me and much testing, I was informed late in the afternoon the kidney was a match and to get my clothes off and ready for surgery.

Dr. Robert Richie, a really fine transplant surgeon who has Bedford County connections, did the transplant and Dr. Harold Helderman has given me excellent care since that night.

I'd like the thoughts of readers on something.

There is a very good chance I could find the name of my donor and also locate his family.

However, since they have preferred to remain anonymous, should I respect their wishes?

Admittedly, I'd like to know so if there is anything I can do to help my donor's family I'd gladly do my very best to help them in any possible way.

I feel extremely blessed and also very sad as I write this blog.

Hopefully I've lived the type life that has been pleasing to him.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Twenty years changes a lot, so they might appreciate hearing from you, but I might go through the doctor, or at least try. This way, if they want to stay anonymous, you have not directly intruded.

-- Posted by stevemills on Mon, May 21, 2012, at 4:43 PM

I was trying to think of why the organ donor's family wouldn't want to meet you, and one thought came to mind. There was probably more than just you that received organs from this one man. I think that would be the only reason why they would not want any correspondence. Somehow it might just be overwhelming to them, that so many people received part of him. Most of us will never know how this family feels, but what a good feeling it is to know that this young man cared enough to let someone else live. We are so grateful for his life and the one that was saved by his death.

Congratulations on your twenty year anniversary.

-- Posted by cookie on Mon, May 21, 2012, at 6:34 PM

Today is the 35th date of my husband's death.

I would give all I own to believe he gave life to someone.

But that was not to be. His alcohal related death took precious life with him.

Bo, maybe someone will step up one day and say, my child lives with you. God bless.

-- Posted by moonwalker on Mon, May 21, 2012, at 9:14 PM

stevemills it could not have been said any better. Life-giving transplants have been such a blessing in my lifetime.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 6:44 AM

Maybe you should write another note of apppreciation of how his gift has given your twenty precious years and that you expect nothing in return. But you never know they may choose to anwser you this time around.

-- Posted by justwanaknow on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 10:10 AM


I clicked on this post about 10 minutes after it appeared, but decided that there was no need for me to comment, as I expected that there would be numerous replies, both pro and con, relating to whether or not to try again to contact your donor family.And while the replies, to this time, have been very supportive of you they have failed to address the situation from the side of the donor family.

I firmly believe that your motive for wanting to establish contact is as pure as the driven snow.However, we can't overlook the fact that the family has had twenty years to try to follow the path back to you that you think could lead you to them, but they haven't availed themselves of that opportunity, which begs an answer to the question,why? Since we have no way of knowing what the exact circumstances leading up to and including the death of your donor were, we can't even make a logical guess as to the reaction of the family to an inquiry made after all these years. Was it a suicide, a murder, a car wreck with a mistress on board? Was your donor's wife (if he was married ) able to start a new life at a later time with another husband, and if so, would an inquiry at this time cause great mental anguish, to the point that her new husband might question the genuiness of her feelings for him?

Bo, these are some of the questions that I would have to ask myself if I was walking in your shoes. I don't intend this in any way to indicate which course of action you should take, that is for you and you alone to decide. But if it were me I believe I would back away from seeking contact at this time, and instead go to the Lord in prayer and ask that HE take the gratitude in my heart and use it to uplift this family according to His will. Only HE can do that without bringing deeply buried grief back to the surface, where it would have to be dealt with again. Good luck with your decision, whatever it may be.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 1:40 PM

The best way to pay homage to an anonymous hero is to become one yourself.Find a way to help others in the spirit of the one who helped you.Create a foundation whose mission it is to assist donor families in any way possible.You may be able to turn your heaviness of heart into a blessing for some who have lost a loved one.Pay it forward,Bo.

-- Posted by mdstover on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 5:02 PM

Anonymous random acts of kindness to others is one way to pay it forward. A life well-lived is a blessing to everyone. May you have many more years to show your appreciation to this generous family in any way you choose.

-- Posted by caligal on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 12:38 PM

A life well-lived is listed in the dictionary under Mr. Bo Melson.

-- Posted by Wolf Clan on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 9:05 PM

Remember how many people he brought back together with his Shelbyville Mills School blog. People who had not been in touch for years. I am sure he never expected more than 500 posts.

-- Posted by moonwalker on Thu, May 24, 2012, at 7:59 AM

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Bo Melson is a retired sports and police beat editor of the Times-Gazette. He passed away November 15, 2014, at age 81.
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