Like most of us, Dr. Dana Greene, juggled the many parts of her life – kids, work, volunteering, friends and home. She made her way through the seemingly unending “To-Do” lists until one day she made a decision to step outside the daily demands of life to change the life of another, forever.
“Keisha and I had known each other for about five years,” explained Dr. Greene. “We met when I joined the board of the charter school my youngest child was attending. She was the president of the board, and our kids were friends.” Dr. Greene found Keisha to be “motivated, effective and sassy” and enjoyable.
It wasn’t long until Dr. Greene learned of Keisha’s liver issues, and one day she developed spontaneous bacterial peritonitis that landed her in the ICU where she almost died.
When Keisha’s cousin began promoting the idea of liver donation on Facebook, Dr. Greene decided to pursue the idea of helping her in a more significant way. “Honestly, at that point, I didn’t even think twice about it. I just thought, ‘Well, let’s see if I’m a match.’”
Dr. Greene and her husband had a history of losing friends to illness or injury. In fact, they went through about a decade of losing one-two per year. Throughout this process, it struck her that this was the first time she may actually be able to have an influence on her friend’s outcome.
“At that point, one of the persistent thoughts was my favorite passage from the Talmud: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now, love mercy, now, walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
At that time, she had also been pondering connections and community, and the “paradox of feeling isolated in this global internet-connected society.” She became keenly aware that life often happens to us rather than the other way around. “We get so wrapped up in the day to day demands of life that stepping outside of our ‘To Do’ lists can be difficult. It’s easy for us to miss the opportunities for us to happen to life.”
Dr. Greene knew that her commitment was really “our commitment,” so after a long discussion with her husband in which they both discussed the measures of risk, she decided to commit to the liver donation.
“As far as logistics, I have this amazing flexible job, my sister-in-law lives with us, and my dad is in town. Therefore, having help with the kids was pretty straightforward. I thought, ‘If I can’t make it work, how can anyone?’”
Both surgeries were largely uneventful. For Dr. Greene, it was about ten weeks before she felt close to normal, as her surgeon had warned her, but for her friend, the differences were apparent even just a few days after surgery. “She was noticeably less jaundiced (and now not at all). She started working again and is now able to drive again!”
“We do scold each other that neither of us have kept our promise of taking more time for ourselves – something that seemed like such a great idea while we were recovering. We are just naturally ‘over-busy’ people. But she has new Nordic ski gear, and we’re both excited to hit the trails together when winter returns.”
Dr. Greene reflects on the whole experience as humbling. “I realized that I can’t do everything alone. I’ve gained insights from my own debility and rejoiced in small victories. I’ve witnessed the small army that took over, largely unbidden, to run the household, cook meals and help get the kids to various activities and appointments. It was deeply humbling, and I am filled with gratitude for it.”
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