The two Yorks in my life surfaced in the same week, like sleek whales breaching the ocean into the air together, throwing water and thrilling me.
One York, the only Black member of the Lewis and Clark expedition 217 years ago, suddenly appeared as a statue on February 22nd, half a mile from my home in Mt. Tabor Park. He is thrilling, I think, millions. Nobody has taken credit for him. The Portland Parks Bureau has declared him a pleasant surprise, and a keeper. (I love when what is usually a long bureaucratic process of public art selection can be artfully subverted like this. And yes, I know that guerilla art can go in bad directions. But let’s celebrate that it went well this time.)
The other York is my left kidney, named after the above York because they both went bravely into unknown territory to serve, without a choice in the matter. Since my transplant surgery on December 16th, I had only heard one week later that Kidney York had been received successfully by a woman in the Bay Area. I hoped for contact with York’s new person, but could only wait, since contact is the recipient’s choice, not their obligation.
But on February 16th, two months to the day after my kidney flew south on ice and was carefully placed into another woman’s body, I received a letter (the paper kind) in my mailbox from that woman. I’ll call her Lee.
Lee wrote that her life has been transformed by Kidney York. (Well, she naturally doesn’t know I named this kidney York. I will need to be gracious about transfer of naming rights.)
“I can barely express my gratitude for your kidney. Thank you for giving me a new chance in this life,” Lee wrote. I was shot through with joy to hold her letter in my hands. My remaining right kidney hummed with energy, to hear that its doubled work-load is making a difference, and that its partner of 60 years is faithfully doing its own blood-cleaning work for someone else now.
I won’t share the rest of Lee’s letter or story unless and until I get to speak directly with Lee, and find out if she would be comfortable with that. I filled out my release of information form giving Lee my full contact information, and I believe she has done the same on her end. Waiting on the kidney bureaucracy here to get a move on.
Gloria is still waiting for the kidney owed to her via my donated kidney (this is called paired donation, a common practice when two people aren’t a blood/tissue match). Our shared story can’t end until she has it. Are the appearances of the two Yorks good omens?
Lee and I are in just the right place. But Gloria is not yet. I’ll write more about Gloria (always with her permission) in my next post.