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.