Friday, August 10, 2018

O Brother, Where Art Thy Heart? Wish I Could Get You a New One

Family Reunion: My Brother Lonnie, Sister Jacqui (Umi), and Me.  
I'll wager even most of my closest friends don't know that I have an older brother.

There are at least two very good reasons for this.

One, to the best of my recollection, none of my friends have ever met him.

And two, I was raised as an only child.

I'm sure those explanations require their own explanations, but before I get to that let me get to this: my brother, Lionel – or Lonnie, or Limabean to his besties – is in desperate need of a heart transplant.

He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure two years ago and currently is on the transplant waiting list at Spectrum Hospital in Grand Rapids. Even when a match is found, however, he still will need additional funds to pay for the hospital expenses and medications his insurance will not cover.

So a GoFundMe account has been established on his behalf in hopes of raising at least $10,000 for his medical bills.

Click here for the link to Lonnie's GoFundMe page. Please give if you can, and generously. Any amount at all is deeply appreciated. And as always, I would never ask you to do something I wouldn't do myself.

And do you find it bizarre and incredible, as I do, that two siblings should grow up to both need organ transplants –– for different organs? What is that, bad blood? Weak cells? Damaged DNA? Whatever the cause, I only pray that my brother may find an organ donor as perfectly matched and life restoring as I did.

And soon.

Which kind of brings us back to where Mr. (Lima) Bean has been all my life. Now, I don't know if this story is completely accurate, but it's the one I was told growing up:

Lonnie and my sister, Jacqui –– better known as Umi (OO-mee) to practically everyone in and around Muskegon, Mich., including her 19 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren –– were very young when our father walked out on them and my birth mother, Josephine. Only Josephine wasn't technically my birth mother at the time, since she was still pregnant with me.
Lonnie and Jacqui. Notice who's not in the shot.

Josephine could barely afford the two kids she had, much less a new rugrat. And while I stand foursquare in favor of a woman's right to choose, I am sooo thankful she made the choice she did, else I would not be here telling you this story. Rather than flush me away, she delivered me and almost immediately put me up for adoption to a wonderful older couple in tiny Spring Lake, Mich., about 15 miles from Muskegon. These were the McFarlins, my Mom and Dad, and a better set of parents you would be hard-pressed to find.

(I never knew my birth father. Wouldn't recognize him if he came into my office right now and poked me in the eye. Although if he tried, since he'd have to be pushing 90 these days, I'm pretty sure I could dodge him.)

Now, here's where a curious thing happened. Because our two towns were so close, and because the McFarlins knew Josephine's parents, my maternal grandparents, very well (that's kind of how the adoption was arranged, practically through a handshake deal), I grew up knowing my birth family, unlike many adopted children. Indeed, we often gathered together to share birthdays, holidays and other special occasions. And for about a week every summer vacation, we would alternate: I would go to Muskegon and stay with Josephine and Jacqui, or Jacqui would come to Spring Lake and visit with us. When you're a little kid, you can't have enough people loving you.

Where is Lionel in all this, you ask? Well, Lonnie was the oldest sibling, the man of the house, and I don't know how much time he spent playing with Jacqui growing up but I know he didn't much have much tolerance for a bespectacled little nerd who showed up once a year, baby brother or no. And Spring Lake was way too slow for his speed. Like most kids, he much preferred to be in the streets, running with his boys, than babysitting some intruder.

So I didn't see much of him. I totally got it. But I remember my "vacation" weeks in Muskegon as terrifying. Josephine was a single mother and had to go to work every day, leaving me in the custody of Jacqui and Lonnie. They weren't what you'd call homebodies.

They had to take me with them, and I recall being left in alleys, stores, strange houses full of people I didn't know...for sheltered Little Jimmy, who'd rather be reading a book through his Coke-bottle glasses or watching cartoons in the living room.... I may still have PTSD.
My brother, Lonnie, today: Take heart. 

But now that we're all old folks, I've grown to respect Lonnie a great deal and the man he's become. He absolutely loves to hunt and fish (how can we possibly be related?), and can no longer fully pursue his passions. His quality of life, indeed the joy of life itself, has been seriously curtailed by his illness and reduced activity level.

My brother has a good heart, emotionally speaking, but the original equipment in his chest is failing him. He needs a new heart, quickly, and the ability to afford all the ancillary equipment and supplies that a transplant requires.

Again, here is the link to the GoFundMe page to support Lionel. Please give if you can; any amount is appreciated.

I know you may not know him, but I do. And he's a good man.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Remembering The Day That Alan Trammell Changed My Life

No. 3 is Now No. 1: Tigers Legend Alan Trammell. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
On Sunday, July 29, at about 2:32 p.m. or so EST, Alan Trammell will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Finally.

But Alan Stuart Trammell has been a Hall of Famer in my book for a long, long time before that. 

Not just because he is undeniably the greatest shortstop in the history of my beloved home (state) team, the Detroit Tigers. Not only because of his .285 lifetime batting average, 185 home runs, four Gold Gloves or six All-Star appearances. Not because he spent his entire 20-season career in Detroit, or because he led the squad that brought a World Series championship to Motown in the Roar of '84, capturing Series MVP honors in the process.

No, Alan Trammell will always be a hero to me because of a brief, easily forgotten, on-field exchange at least 35 years ago that impacted me so dramatically that I believe it altered my basic outlook on life.

Perhaps I should explain.

But first, please understand that Trammell and his double-play partner, Lou Whitaker (whose omission from Hall of Fame consideration is nothing short of criminal, IMHO) were my Boys of Summer. We were young, ambitious men at the same time in life. I still vividly remember that iconic (in Detroit) photo of the fledgling double-play combo, side by side and grinning like kids at a carnival, just called up from Toledo and preparing to make their major league debuts together on Sept. 9, 1977.

Tram and Sweet Lou were more than just extraordinary ballplayers I followed every day of baseball season on radio, TV or in person; they were contemporaries. We grew up in Detroit together. So when my friend Larry Kaplan, who was then one of the city's best-known freelance photographers, told me he had wheedled an extra media pass for Tiger Stadium and asked if I wanted to join him on the field during batting practice, of course I said no.
This isn't the "iconic" photo, but you get the idea. (Getty Images)

Are you kidding? 

At the time I was working as the pop music critic for The Detroit News, which at the time was the largest evening daily newspaper in America. I had interviewed countless rock 'n' roll icons face to face, been backstage at hundreds of concerts, but nothing had geeked me up quite as much as this opportunity. Now I was grinning like a kid at a carnival.

The shifting sands of time have pounded my brain to the point that I cannot remember the date or the opponent, but I recall it was a day game and I'm guessing it happened sometime in 1983, the year before the Tigers magical championship run. I completely remember the look and feel of the Tiger Stadium grass beneath my feet, the tingling sensation all over my body. Sportswriters do this every day. I felt like I had been granted special access to the Taj Majal.

The first player we saw on the field was Trammell, casually waiting his turn in the batting cage. Kaplan walked me up to him and asked me, "I guess you know who this is, huh?"

I was trying to be cool, but if I'd had an autograph book with me I totally would have made a gushing idiot out of myself. I was so awestruck it never occurred to me to ask the photographer with cameras around his neck to take a picture of the two of us. I may have stuttered.

Then came the moment. "Jim is the rock critic for the News," Kaplan explained. 

Alan Trammell's face brightened. His eyes opened wide. "Rock critic? Really? So, do you go to all the concerts? Do you go backstage? Do you get to talk to the musicians? Who have you seen lately? Who do you like?"

Suddenly, my hero, my baseball idol, is peppering me with questions about my job and how I did what I did. I was shocked! I'm sure I blurted out answers as best as I could, but this unexpected role reversal caught me totally by surprise. After a few moments, Trammell and I shook hands and Kaplan walked me away. 

I think I needed the assistance.

That encounter, while just seconds long, left me with some valuable insights I've kept to this day:

• No matter what your job may be, there is somebody out there who thinks it's really cool.

• Don't take your work for granted.

• Be gracious to others, especially when you can detect that they're nervous.

• Even a momentary encounter can change somebody's life – for better or worse.

• Strangers may only meet you once in life. Strive to leave a great first impression.

Back then I'm pretty sure my ego was inflated beyond all logical proportions. For a guy from little Spring Lake, Mich., to work his way up to becoming music critic at a major daily newspaper, in his home state, and a person of color at that...I probably believed my feces had no odor. But then for a man I believed could be justified to feel that way, to treat me like he did for those few moments...decades later, I've never forgotten it. I still use those principles today as I travel the country on speaking engagements and stand as an advocate for kidney disease prevention, peritoneal dialysis and organ transplantation. 

As big a baseball freak as I am, I never have had the urge to travel to Cooperstown, N.Y., for a Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I seriously thought about going this year, but I also work as a wedding officiant these days and accidentally scheduled a vow renewal ceremony in Chicago this weekend.

Rats.

Jack Morris, the dominant right-handed pitcher of his era and a longtime Tiger as well, also is being inducted to the Hall of Fame on Sunday. It's a well-deserved honor. But even Morris admits now that back in his heyday he was kind of an ass. Wonder how my outlook on life might have changed had I met him first?

No, if I was in Cooperstown this weekend it would be for Tram and Tram alone. I am there in spirit. 

Thanks for the memories, Alan Trammell. All the memories.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

I Oughta Be in Pictures? For a Cause as Great as This, of Course!

Before we begin...to all my besties, acquaintances, and anyone else who knows me as a proud native son of Michigan, I apologize in advance. But please allow me to explain.

What you're about to see on this embedded video may give you pause to believe I have turned my back –– and the sweatshirt that covers it –– on the Great Lakes State. Nothing could be further from correct. I was born in Muskegon, raised in Spring Lake, summered in Grand Haven, matriculated in Holland, and spent the majority of my adult life in Detroit. The blood that courses through my veins is Pure Michigan.

However, in the video you're about to click, you will see Jim McFarlin clad in (I can hardly bring myself to write it) a University of Illinois hoodie. While it's true I have lived outside of Chicago for the better part of a decade, I assure you I have not crossed over to the dark side of the Big Ten Conference.



This was clearly a "when in Rome" –– or in this case, Champaign-Urbana –– situation.

You see, I am a member of a committee called Life Goes On Champaign, an outgrowth of legendary Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and his passion to increase the number of Land of Lincoln residents who register to be organ and tissue donors. White's obsession was fueled when his sister received a life-saving kidney transplant many years ago. And since I received the identical miraculous gift in 2011, I'm a big fan of the effort myself.

(For more information, go to LifeGoesOn.com.)

Since April is Donate Life Month (you did know that, right?), White and his people unveiled a new ad campaign and video highlighting the fact that as of January, 16- and 17-year-olds are permitted to register as donors in the state of Illinois.

Liz Hager, White's wondrous right-hand woman and our committee chair, connected with a delightful University of Illinois undergrad named Bridgette Rasmussen who volunteered to help produce a separate public service announcement on behalf of Illinois Student Government, specifically for the U of I Union. It would alternate with the official Life Goes On PSA and air continuously throughout the Union, to be seen by thousands of collegians.

Since I am one of the few men on the committee, and by far the biggest ham in the room, I happily volunteered to participate.

Because it was going to be shown exclusively on campus, I decided to dress the part for the video shoot. All right, yes, I was sucking up...but for a good cause!

I donned my orange-and-blue-on-gray Illinois hoodie –– the only piece of Illini apparel I possess, and I only wear it to work out, I swear! –– and drove to the university's creative services office for the taping. I would be joined by my fellow committee members, Lauri Umbarger and Robyn Deterding.

Now let me say at this point that I enjoy many things about growing older gracefully, but total loss of memory is not one of them. I elected to run a few quick errands before driving to the U of I studio, ensuring I would arrive early for our 4 o'clock taping.

That is, until I casually glanced at my calendar while stopped at a red light. The taping was set for 3 o'clock! I forgot! Instead of being comfortably early, I stood to be nearly an hour late!

I raced to campus, found a parking place several blocks away –– looking for parking at a major university in mid-afternoon can bring a grown man to tears –– then ran to the studio, arriving flustered and out of breath. My only saving grace was, as I knew from experience and hoped in this instance, that video shoots almost never start on time.

Thankfully, I was right. And by the grace of God I was scheduled to be the last person taped, which gave me time to right myself. The script, loaded onto a TelePrompTer, was simple and straightforward, which meant I could read it slowly and give it some sincerity. I wasn't half bad, if I say so myself, but you be the judge.

Apparently, the video crew thought so. When we were finished, the director stared at me and asked, "Have...you...done this before?" I explained that yes, I used to do some voiceover work in Detroit and hosted shows both on TV and radio.

He asked for my business card.

Wouldn't it be a hoot if volunteering to play a part for a cause I feel so strongly about led to getting some paying work as well? Talk about paying it forward!

But hey, like they say: Life Goes On.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Make a List of All You Do. The Results Might Surprise Even You!

Micheal and Me: With the Amazing Micheal Turner
CHICAGO – Recently I was here to attend the annual meeting of The Renal Network ESRD Network 10 Board of Directors, on which I am proud to serve as a patient representative.

The Renal Network is a not-for-profit organization tasked with monitoring the quality of dialysis care in Network 10, which covers the state of Illinois. (There are 18 such networks nationwide, all under the direction of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), responsible for every U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia.) I've been affiliated with Network 10 in one form or another almost since my kidney disease and I moved to Illinois in 2009.

I am one of two patient reps on the board. The other is a gentleman named Micheal Turner, of whom my admiration knows no bounds. He's the Real Deal, a true believer, a warrior for patients' rights. Sometimes I'm almost jealous of Micheal because he still has such an active, caring, hands-on role in his dialysis clinic. He rallies and organizes his fellow in-center hemodialysis  patients, acts as liaison between patients and staff, follows up on grievances.

Then again, being as fully engaged as Micheal Turner means I probably would be on dialysis again.

Never mind. You go, Micheal. 

Typically speaking, neither he nor I get to do a lot of talking at these board meetings. It's not that we aren't valued, as has been the case at some other meetings I've attended where nephrologists, dialysis nurses and other health professionals look at patients as a necessary evil, or at worst, an annoyance to be patronized. It's just that Network 10 has undergone some major structural changes the past few years and much of our time has been spent in organizational details, rewriting bylaws, that kind of thing.

Not this time. A few days before the meeting, our executive director, Bridget Carson, emailed me and said she would like to begin the agenda with a "patient rep update." It would be an opportunity to introduce the new board members – and many of the old ones, I'd wager – to who we are and our activities outside the boardroom.

And give us a chance to speak, too.

Open a Magazine and See Your Face? Cool, But Creepy. 
So the night before, in my Chicago hotel room, two extraordinary things happened. I picked up the latest copy of CS (Chicago Social) magazine, one of those glossy local publications found in every Windy City hotel room and one for which I write, and much to my surprise found my little brown mug staring back at me from the contributors' page! Magazine deadlines are so far in advance that I'd forgotten I had even written a story for that issue. That'll wake you right up!

The other thing was, now completely awake in my cool, quiet room, I actually had time to think about all my kidney-related activities and jot them down in advance of my meeting moment.

In addition to sitting on the Network 10 Board of Directors:

• I'm a "subject matter expert" in the area of patient mental health for the Florida-based National Patient and Family Engagement Learning and Action Network;

• I remain involved with the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois (NKFI); I will be delivering the keynote address December 2 in Champaign for their seminar entitled, “Living With Kidney Disease and Transplantation;”

• I served a two-year term as the ESRD (End-Stage Renal Disease) patient representative for the state of Illinois. Yeah, the whole freakin' state. While largely a ceremonial position, the title allowed me in the front door at many dialysis clinics throughout the state, where I got to meet and talk to dialysis patients of all stripes;

• I completed the training to become an ambassador for Gift of Hope, the organ and tissue donation network for Illinois and northwest Indiana;

• I'm the acting secretary for my local NKFI Champaign kidney disease and transplantation support group,

• And, of course, when time, topic and energy combine, I still maintain this blog, which played a major role in allowing me to win the Robert Felter Memorial Award from The Renal Network in 2011 for outreach and information to the kidney community.

I say all this not to strain my shoulder by patting myself on the back. It's just that sometimes when you're running the race, you don't stop to notice how far you've traveled. I really had no idea about how many renal-related activities I was and am involved with until I took time out to write them down.

I still prefer the personal touch myself. Over the past five years or so, I've become sort of Kid Kidney, medical advisor to friends and acquaintances far and wide. Many of my younger years were spent with people who rocked hard and partied harder, and it seems all our bodies are breaking down about the same time. 

I'll bet I field at least three calls or messages a month from old buddies, people they've referred, even total strangers, who have just been diagnosed with some stage of kidney disease and want to talk about dialysis and transplant options. "They're just scared," comes the usual explanation. "They know you've been there before." I'm honored by their trust. I always advocate peritoneal dialysis (PD), the option that saved my life.

Of course, that option is not always available. Not long ago I received a call from a dialysis nurse I know. She had a patient – we'll call her Sally – who was on the verge of ending her hemodialysis treatments. She lived alone, and she had grown tired of the draining three-times-weekly clinic visits, securing transportation, the physical and emotional highs and lows. She was ready to pack it in. "Could you just come and talk to her?" the nurse asked.

What the heck could I tell her? But I met Sally during her next dialysis treatment. "I'm not here to tell you what to do," I began. "I just wanted to meet you and talk." 

Sally said she couldn't do PD because she couldn't handle the equipment and heavy boxes of fluids by herself. She was retired, and tired, and just didn't see any future for herself. We talked for 30 minutes or so; actually, I probably did most of the talking. As I left I handed her my business card and invited her to attend one of our monthly support group get-togethers. I left feeling like I had accomplished nothing whatsoever.

Two days later, I received a call from the dialysis nurse. "What did you say to Sally?" she asked enthusiastically. "The whole session, she kept saying, 'Jim said this,' and 'Jim said that.' She seemed like a totally different person."

I'll never get board of meetings like those.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Yet ANOTHER Advantage of Kidney Transplants – New Friends!

My budding bud, Wayne: Sox and Tigers fans, united by kidneys!
At this age I'm not accustomed to getting all giddy over the making of a new friend. That's typically the province of grade-school boys at their first Cub Scout meeting. However, I recently forged a new acquaintance, and I've got to tell you: I'm pretty jazzed about it.

Meet Wayne Meyer II (says Jimmy McFarlin III), baseball coach for small-town Le Roy Junior/Senior High School ("Home of the Panthers") about a half-hour drive from where I live. Now, if Wayne was only a baseball coach and former player, that surely would be enough to curry my excitement: as anyone who knows me will attest, I am an absolute geekazoid when it comes to America's (First, Last and Always) Pastime. For my birthday in June, the only present I really asked for – and received, thankfully – was the commemorative bobblehead of Detroit Tigers righthander Michael Fulmer, the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year. 

What does that say about me?

Anyway, I feel pretty confident that Wayne and I will have a lot to talk about going forward, which is important after the getting-to-know-you period has subsided. But here's the kicker: this tall, extremely healthy-looking man is, like me, a kidney transplant recipient!

Small (Wayne's) World, ain't it?

He and I met in the usual way: standing in line for tests at a hospital laboratory office. I was in line behind Wayne, and regardless of what all those signs say about patient privacy and HIPAA regulations, you cannot possibly whisper softly enough at the check-in desk to avoid being overheard by everyone in a small waiting room. 

He answered all the same medical questions I have been asked at that desk at least once a month for the last six years. I was so familiar with them, I knew the basics of Wayne's condition before he ever turned around to face me.

"How long ago was your transplant?" I asked him.

Came to find out he was a "newbie." He underwent successful transplant surgery on Dec. 3, 2016, and, like I did the first year or so, has to come to the hospital every week for blood tests. The transplant team wants to make sure your foreign "tenant" is making itself comfortable in its new home. For Wayne, that means making the 70-mile round trip from Le Roy every seven days. 

I learned that not only do we share the same local nephrologist, the wise and compassionate Dr. Abdel-Moneim Attia, but we had our surgeries at the same hospital, Barnes-Jewish in St. Louis. We were like renal relatives! Kidney cousins! Since our lab schedules were certain to dovetail, I invited him out to coffee at some later date. To my great delight, he accepted.
My favorite birthday gift. Is something wrong with me?

Weeks later, at an Einstein Bagels restaurant in the shadow of the hospital, Wayne and I got better acquainted. It's fascinating to me how many different ways people come to the point of needing a kidney transplant. In his case, he was actually born with only one kidney! 

Wayne said he was never made aware of it – and since he was a young, healthy, athletic fellow, who would think to look? – until his overworked organ began wearing out. "I had the kidney of a 90-year-old man," he told me.

In 2015, Old Man Kidney decided it had labored long enough. "I started feeling sick," he recalls. "I powered through the end of the school year, and the baseball season, of course, but my feet started to swell. My energy went way down." By the time his wife, Victoria, finally convinced him to go to the hospital, "I was struggling," he admits. "I needed to know what was going on, but I was scared to find out."

Not only did Attia calm and encourage him, but he also made a prediction. "Dr. Attia said from the get-go, 'a year and a half, two years,'" until he received a transplant, Wayne says, "but everything from Barnes-Jewish said it was going to be at least a three- to four-year wait. But Dr. Attia knew what he was doing. He called it from the first time he met me when I was hospitalized."

Wayne spent that year-and-a-half wait on peritoneal dialysis – just like me! – and dialyzed at home with his wife's valiant assistance. "The quality of life did not change much at all," he says. "That's what made the transition so much easier." 

Beyond the steadfast support of Victoria and their two sons, Trey and Colin, the outpouring of concern and care from his tiny town was overwhelming, he says. Clearly, LeRoy adores its high school baseball coach and his family. 

"Some guys at school organized fundraisers to help cover medical expenses," Wayne says. "It seemed like everybody knew about it. I still get people from around town, even other towns, asking me how I'm doing. People who I had no idea knew anything."

And how is he doing? "I feel great," he beams. "Never had a sick day because of it. My energy level is great, though I'm not in shape like I used to be."

None of us are, Coach. Although I'll bet his superior conditioning played a big part in his recovery and present state of health.

His health and happiness come tinged with just a touch of regret, however. Wayne doesn't know who his kidney donor was, but "I do know the kidney was supposed to go to a family member, and for whatever reason it didn't work out," he says. "It's an odd feeling, knowing that it was designated for someone within the donor's family and I ended up getting it. It's kind of a touchy situation. It's one of those cases where you're excited, but you still feel bad." 

Of course, we also talked a lot of baseball. He is a Chicago White Sox fan, but he's such a nice guy that I'm willing to forgive that misguided life decision.

Wayne has invited me to speak to his English class, which will happen in the very near future. I'm so excited! I love talking to young people about the power and passion words can carry, and the remarkable career opportunities I've enjoyed from being able to write good.

Uh, well, I mean. (Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.)

I think the hardest part will be not spending the entire class time talking about our transplants. For both Mr. Meyer and me, it's been an education.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

She's His Wife, and Now She's His Life: A Transplant Tale in Texas

After Sept. 14, Angela and Josh Will be Even Closer Than in This Photo Booth.
It is by no means a stretch of the imagination to say that today – Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 – is the most important day in the marriage of Angela DeLa Bullard and Josh Bailey. More important, even, than their wedding day.

A life-changing day.

In all likelihood, a life saving day.

For today is the day that Angela is donating one of her kidneys to her beloved husband in Austin, Texas. Josh has experienced the miracle of a kidney transplant once before, but last November he received the soul-crushing report that his adopted organ from 13 years ago was functioning at only about 12 percent of capacity, and dropping fast. (Did you know that your kidneys, marvelous examples of God's handiwork that they are, still can serve your body quite adequately at 60 percent?)

Since Thanksgiving of last year, Josh has been on dialysis three times a week while continuing to work and lead a relatively normal life. And believe me, folks, that ain't easy.

After months of uncertainty trying to coordinate insurance and other issues, last April the couple began their search for a new donor. And just two months later, they received the miraculous news that  Angela was a match!

Now this is a rare and wonderful thing indeed, and as any believer would tell you, no coincidence or phenomenal stroke of luck. The Almighty's hand is clearly doing its thing here.

When my time came to look for a donor, my wife, Karen, refused to get tested. She employed logic over love. "If I get tested and I'm a match," she reasoned, "who's going to take care of you? I couldn't. We'd both be laid up recovering at the same time."

Josh, Angela, and Not the Family Pet. 
That's the challenge facing Josh and Angela. "Our original plan was that I would continue to work and be a caregiver for Josh during the first steps of his recovery, but now we will be traveling that path together," she writes. "I am beyond willing to do anything within my ability to aid in making my best friend and partner feel better. As the saying goes, however, time is money."

So they established a Go Fund Me page to help defray the medical bills and living expenses that are sure to mount while they recuperate. Their modest goal was $1,200, just to get them through a month or so, but in this remarkable period of America's generosity that figure has more than doubled and continues to grow. Amazing.
I'm making a donation today. I invite you to join me, but even if you are not so inclined, please consider sharing this post with your social media circles. Here's the link for you to make a contribution: https://www.gofundme.com/joshandangela

Now, I have never met Angela and Josh. Prior to today, I couldn't have picked them out of a photo array. However, we have a friend in common: Josh went to college with my former churchmate and recently repatriated Texan, Dr. Frank Engel. Frank is one of the finest men currently walking the earth, and if he likes Josh and Angela, then so do I.

"You'll notice they only asked for one month's expenses, and they've surpassed that," Frank says. "It helps when you're a swell guy."

And besides, I kind of know how he feels.

God bless you both.

UPDATE: On Sept. 23, 2017, Matt Bailey posted to Facebook: "We are happy to report that 10 days after surgery, Angela and I are back home. We passed the critical phase of our recovery and were released from the hospital with flying colors!

"We both have a long road of healing in front of us, but we're out to the danger zone and feeling better every day. Your thoughts and support had a direct impact on easing our stress during this time We are eternally grateful!"

Monday, January 2, 2017

Finally – A Chance for Some Big (Kidney) Ballin' in Detroit

Yes, yes, I realize – I'm the only man in the photo. But I was willing to make the sacrifice for such a great cause!

Recently I had the opportunity to fulfill a long-held dream. I can't exactly say it was a "bucket list" item, but since I likely would have kicked the bucket long ago without the information and support of agencies like the Kidney Foundation of Michigan, it was a memory I'll cherish forever.









silent auction on cell phone.