DEAR ABBY: Twenty years ago -- at the age of 3 -- my son was diagnosed with kidney disease. His illness worsened, his kidneys failed, he endured dialysis. Then he received a kidney transplant -- the miracle of life.
My son's first transplant was at age 6, and it gave him three great years. His second transplant was at 9. Both donors were deceased. The second kidney took him all the way through high school. He started dialysis again when he entered college, and the wait began for another kidney.
No one in our family could donate because we all had the wrong blood type. Then, one day, science and research came through for us again. A technique was perfected that allows a person to donate an organ of a different blood type from the recipient. My son was one of the first to benefit from the technique. We were able to use my wife's kidney, a near-perfect match except for her blood type. It worked!
That was three years ago. My son is healthier than he has been in 20 years and has just graduated from college.
How can we ever thank the two families who gave my son the gift of life that allowed him to survive long enough for my wife's kidney to be used? We will celebrate my son's life with thousands of other transplant recipients at the National Kidney Foundation U.S. Transplant Games this summer. Together we will pay tribute to the doctors and donors who made this happen as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of transplantation, a therapy that has saved more than 100,000 lives. -- ALAN MITTLEMAN, NATIONAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION
DEAR ALAN: I am pleased that so many with kidney disease are now enjoying healthy, normal lives as a result of this giant leap forward. Readers, April is National Donate a Life Month, a time for everyone to consider organ donation and to discuss their wishes with their families. For more information, or a free donor card, contact the National Kidney Foundation at Box DA, 30 E. 33rd St., New York, NY 10016, or call (800) 622-9010. The Web site is www.kidney.org.
DEAR ABBY: I have a happy 10-year marriage. Recently my husband, "Ben," found a snapshot of me taken when I was about 15. At the time, I was trying to look sexy: tight jeans, unbuttoned shirt, come-hither look -- but now it's just embarrassing. I laughed with him at the silly photo and forgot about it.
This week, Ben brought home a "surprise" -- a life-sized painting of me based on that old photo. Now he wants to hang it in our home. I told him I didn't find it flattering and would be uncomfortable having that slutty painting of me displayed anywhere. He said I'm too sensitive, and no one will know it's me. (What an insult!)
Then Ben played his trump card: He bought the painting for himself, not for me, and thus it's his decision whether (and where) he chooses to hang it in his house.
I am mortified. I can't imagine looking my guests in the eye after they see that painting. Am I overreacting? -- BLUSHING IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR BLUSHING: I think so. Regardless of how much you think you have changed, that painting reflects how your husband perceives you. To him, you are "hot," and that's a compliment. Perhaps you can negotiate where the painting will be hung.
It would be nice if he were more sensitive to your feelings, but it appears he is not. So try to accept it and, instead of blushing, tell your guests that the painting is HIS idea of "art," not yours.
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