April 7, 2021
I knew without a shadow of a doubt when I decided to start the process it would work and be successful.
I’ve been a Kindergarten teacher for 21 years, and have stayed in the U.S. for most of my life. Hearing about my children's study abroad adventures inspired me to travel to another country. When I was offered a position in Abu Dhabi, I was the head of faculty and met Alison Hinkley.
We quickly became friends, and I have a great deal of professional respect for her. When she returned a year after I had, she settled into the Portland area and our friendship grew even stronger. When she met Gary, I never anticipated how close we’d all become.
I had the great honor of officiating their wedding and watching their love continue to grow. In the Spring of 2019, Gary received the devastating news that his kidneys were failing, during his fight with Lupus. His sister became a living donor, and it was heartbreaking when the transplant failed. After months of seeking out other prospects, my intuition spoke loudly and I made the choice with Gary and Alison’s blessing to explore if I could become a donor.
When I was young, I had a loved one who had kidney failure. I had empathy for the stress it causes, which nudged me even more to become a living donor. In December 2019, I started the process and in November 2020 I was approved. I can’t express enough gratitude for the staff at the Maine Transplant Center. They were extraordinary. They helped me understand the process, they made sure I wanted to proceed and were the emotional support system any living donor could dream of.
A lot of people praise me for doing this, but it's really not anything wildly amazing. I was inspired to do this because I wanted more than anything for the Hinkley’s to have a normal life. I wanted them to enjoy the day to day things like taking care of their twins, date nights, Gary being able to teach and Alison the freedom to focus on her career, all without stress. My core just knew it was the right thing to do, and spiritually it was something I needed to do. I like to think it helped me balance the karma scales in my favor.
Kindness doesn’t have to be something major, any small act is more than enough, and I hope that sharing this story will simply inspire others to be kind.
- Deb Newman