In the second episode of unscripted, our new patient video series, see how Angie Easton's life - from foster parenting to kidney donation - has been shaped by her philosophy about making a difference in others' lives wherever possible.
This is Angie's story, in her own words ... unscripted.
Moving from Michigan to Cincinnati
Cincinnati is an amazing big, little city. I grew up in northwestern Michigan in a very small community, probably about a mile square. If I was gonna start over and get out of this tiny little town, it was time to do that. It was time to maybe grow up a little and I started playing on a softball team based out of Cincinnati and that's how I met my wife. So I can say softball, or I could say a girl, I guess. Or I could say the lovely town of Cincinnati, there are a couple of options.
Family is who you choose
Growing up, my parents were foster parents, when I was in middle school and then parts of high school. So I knew what that was like and I knew the process. I think when Theresa and I met, we had both experienced a good portion of our lives raising other people's children, or caring for them. When we decided that we would like to try to start a family, we knew that foster care would be our option.
We are now five strong. Delilah makes me excited for life. She's just, her personality is very gregarious. She's very outgoing and she's a people person, which sometimes I'm not always that way. So she drives me to be that happy, smiling, outgoing person. And then Bean, he inspires me. He came from such a little, little guy and the things that he, his body and his mind went through before he grew up to this strong three year old, he inspires me. And then we have a third little guy who came to us about a year ago. He is still in the foster care system. I feel like he makes me a better mom. Our third guy really challenges me to be a good parent and an attentive parent and a responsible parent. Not that I'm an irresponsible parent, but he really challenges me to do that. I can't give the world what they've given me.
Giving a life-saving gift
Donating a kidney was not something I had ever thought about for a minute. I have always signed up to be an organ donor at the end of my life and that was sort of my default plan for life. You give it all away at the end. But one day, scrolling through Facebook, a friend of ours had posted on there and said she had donated her kidney to her brother a few years ago and donated organs don't always last the life of the recipient and her kidney now inside her brother was failing. And I thought, "Well, what do you have to do to get checked?" And it was sort of on a whim.
I sort of thought, "Well, I could probably do something like that." Then there's this very long process of testing and then you get the phone call that says, "You're a match." So all at one time, you think, "This is amazing and this is terrifying." And you have a sense of joy and obligation. Because nobody really expects you to give a kidney to a stranger, but it's a bell that you can't unring. For me, it was an easy decision. It was, "I'm a match, let's go."
Making a difference, for one
One of my inspirations, one of the many, comes from a Loren Eiseley short-story called The Star Thrower. Sometimes it's called The Starfish Story. But Loren does some great work when he writes, "One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy. The boy was picking up something and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, "What are you doing?" And the youth replied, "Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is out and if I don't throw them back, they'll die." "Son," the man said, "Don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can't make a difference." And after listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it back into the surf. Then smiling at the man, he said, "I made a difference for that one."
The question gets asked, "Can you help?" And so you have to stop and think, "Well, can I?" My life today is richer, is better, is more fulfilled than it was when I had two kidneys. I am more than okay with the fact that we have not met and if we don't ever, I am okay with that too. I hope he's doing well. I hope that he has a part of his life back and if not, if for some reason, something went wrong, I am just as happy that I did it, and I would do it again.
Thinking about kidney donation? Check out our program to learn more.