I’d been a member of the Church for almost ten years. Though I’d gone through a three year “inactive” period, returning to church was easy—like I’d never left. I attended my meetings weekly, served in ward callings, gave what service my schedule allowed and attended the temple regularly. I raised my son in the Church, set the example for my daughters to love their families and even introduced my mother to the Church. What more could Heavenly Father want of me? I knew something was missing. I watched other ward families and wondered how they had so much love in their lives. I wondered at times if the things I had done in my youth or things that had happened to me in childhood would affect the Lord’s love for me. How could it be the same as the love he had for these good, faithful saints who had known Him all of their lives and had been taught from birth that they were His special children, that they were chosen for good things. Sometimes I felt like an intruder trying to grab a share. I felt like a thistle among the wheat.
I guess I felt a little sorry for myself, remembering a lot of bad choices I made in my life. I listened to members when they bore their testimonies and sometimes thought, “Ha, you think you had it bad, let me tell you.” I wanted to change these thoughts so I asked Heavenly Father to help me. After about a month I experienced a reoccurring, unexplainable dream nightly for over a week. I couldn’t sleep—couldn’t talk to anyone about it. In the dream I laid on a gurney in a hospital corridor. A woman, a member of the Church, came through the door. I asked my husband who was near me to pull the sheet over me so the woman would not see me. Not much of a dream, but every time that sheet came over my face I became terrified.
The senior elder helped get the needed information. I called the center and told them that I didn’t want the family to know that I was looking into this, but in Canada that is not permitted. They said they could check if my blood type would be a match, but after that I had to have the permission of the recipient before testing could proceed. The more they asked if I was sure I wanted to go forward, the stronger my knowledge grew that I was supposed to do this. I learned that my blood type was not the same as the recipient’s, but something about it made the two blood types compatible.
My husband asked the senior elder to help to explain my thoughts to the recipient and ask for the go ahead. He set up the appointment. My husband and I talked and prayed about nothing else while we waited. I prepared to argue with the family, to insist they let me do this. Sitting in their home we talked about the Church and faith. The elder said that I had something to ask the husband. I could feel a hand on my arm as I started to talk. I told what I had already done and asked his permission to continue with the testing to see if my kidney could be donated to him. After a few minutes of silence, he agreed. The four of us received blessings from the elder—blessings of angels and faith and good things to come. We agreed to keep this quiet until we knew more.
The testing took place from March to June. I was often asked “why” and had to confirm that I was not being forced to do this by someone. I kept asking the Father, “How can I explain to these people that I knew from Him that this was supposed to be?” Not all of the tests matched to the level usually expected for the donation to be successful. I told them that there was no doubt in my mind—it would work. Finally, I met with my surgeon. He felt this should be an easy surgery, because, miraculously the tubes that attach to my kidneys were a little longer than normal and he would have lots of room to take what he needed.
You may wonder where the adversary was through all of this. Don’t worry; I did not get off scott-free from his attention. In 2002 from March to July, Toronto was under siege from SARS. Hospitals were closed to visitors and those who needed to go to the hospital went through sterilizing, continued questioning and examinations before getting past the corridor. I was in the hospital for a stress test when the hospital went on a SARS alert. They told me that if my recipient was not in that hospital at that same time the donation could go no further. At home I called and found that we had both been there at exactly the same time.
I was fortunate not to catch any illness that year. When I told my non-member daughters about the donation they had questions, but became very supportive. A week before the surgery my surgeon refused to do the transplant because of the SARS epidemic. Thankfully, the Lord stepped in and the head of surgery reviewed the case and decided to do the surgery herself.
The Sunday before the transplant I asked the ward for their prayers for both me and my recipient. Many people said that they wouldn’t be able to do what I was doing. I told them that they don’t know what the Lord will ask until he asks and then, if they hear him they will do it. Later that day I received a blessing from priesthood holders. I was assured that everything would proceed as expected and better. My recipient also received blessings from these men with the same assurance.
I went into the surgery confident that everything would be fine. I wasn’t surprised when the surgeons told us the transplant was finished and everything was satisfactory. I gave thanks to the Lord for His hands on those who performed the operation. The next day my husband wheeled me in to see my recipient. I was surprised to see him sitting at the side of his bed eating his dinner.
The following Sunday I sat in Sacrament meeting way in the back with my family. The bishop stood up to announce the surgery results and then he saw me. I think that if he could have, he would have come to me right then, but he told the congregation that he could report that all was well as I was sitting there in the back.