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The Strength in Asking for Help

On 18 April 2023, Nik wrote a lengthy post on Facebook. Her husband, TJ, who had been living for several years with an autoimmune disorder called IGA Nephropathy, went into kidney failure, and was dying. TJ’s dialysis three days each week was keeping him alive, but the only thing that could actually save his life was a kidney transplant. Nik said, “I am writing this in hopes that maybe someone will read this and God will speak to your heart and you’ll possibly consider being a living Donor.” She went on to ask people to share her post to spread the word as much as possible, and she included TJ’s phone number so that anyone could text or call him directly.

 

My sister, Jessica, knows Nik and TJ through her work community. She shared Nik’s post, and that’s where I first learned of the situation. TJ needed a donor with an O blood type (which I am), and I called him. He shared his story with me, and by the end of the conversation, I knew we had to do something.

 

I called my sister next and told her that we should consider getting tested to be a match. She agreed, and she, her husband Glenn, and I all contacted the hospital.

 

Here’s where the universe began to work its magic. I knew that Glenn’s dad had difficult health issues and died young. I didn’t know that his dad was born with only one kidney and had himself received a kidney transplant when Glenn was a child. The gift of the transplant allowed Glenn and his dad to have 15 additional years together and for his dad to see Glenn into adulthood. Hearing TJ’s story and with his dad’s history, Glenn felt that he was meant to be TJ’s donor.

 

The matching process took months. In addition to bloodwork at the local hospital and other mail-in tests, Jess and Glenn traveled to Nashville twice – once for an overall assessment that included physical and emotional testing, and once for pre-op. Finally, on 12 March 2024, Glenn successfully donated a kidney to TJ, and the new kidney was functioning within an hour of TJ’s surgery. TJ was able to produce urine for the first time in two years. Two years. Can you imagine not being able to pee and needing a machine to clean the waste from your body for two years?

 

Now, a few months post-op, and both TJ and Glenn have recovered beautifully. They were spoiled beyond measure by Nik and her parents: dedicated set ups of tables with each of their medications, two entire floors of the house providing space and quiet for their rest, and nightly movies, cake, and ice cream (to the point that on the first night that Glenn came home, a gorgeous and decadent chocolate cake was delivered to his door!). Nik posts often with appreciation for the little things – her husband sleeping peacefully through the night, the two of them enjoying a cup of coffee together in the morning, TJ feeling ready to go back to the gym. Jess is in awe of her husband – Glenn’s willingness to physically give of himself to save another person’s life. TJ and Glenn are quite literally bonded for the rest of their lives.

 

All of this comes from a plea for help, from Nik’s love for her husband, from Nik and TJ’s humility and faith. That’s where it started: an ask for help. I can only imagine what Nik must have been feeling when she was writing her post – fear, anxiety, desperation – and beneath those feelings were nerves of steel. The strength and resolve, the trust in the goodness of people, the belief that a miracle was possible.

 

What does this have to do with leadership? Everything. Asking for help is a sign of strength, as is the willingness to receive what is offered. When you ask for help, you allow yourself to be humble. You admit that you’re not perfect. You acknowledge the basic human truth that we need each other. You provide the opportunity for someone to give a gift. You open the door to possibility.

 

Your request doesn’t need to be a big one. The benefits of the exchange between two people are the same regardless of the size of the ask. Often, the person providing the help needs to give as much as the recipient needs to receive. Who knows what can happen when you’re willing to ask for help? You might just change a life. Or save one.



two men walking down a hospital cooridor
TJ and Glenn on their way to surgery



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