It is with a sad heart that I report today on my efforts to be a kidney donor for my animal rescue friend Bonnie Plafke. In initial testing, our blood matched well, so I flew to Florida last month for two days of in-depth physical exams. Although I got a clean bill of health overall, it was discovered that my kidneys are smaller than normal.
What is “normal”?
My kidneys measured 8.3 and 8.5 cm compared to a “normal” of around 10 or greater (4-5 inches). The day I met with the doctor, he seemed to feel it was not a big deal since my other numbers seemed fine, but the group finally met and reviewed my case and turned me down as a donor. It seems my body is more selfish than my heart.
Bonnie is therefore still in need of a kidney donor. All testing and medical is paid by her insurance. A donor needs to be in good health and be type O to be tested.
And, of course, be doing it without pay or coercion, which is against the law.
I was so excited to give the gift of life, and am so very, very disappointed that I am unable to carry through. I hope there’s someone else out there who can help Bonnie.
Who is Bonnie Plafke, and how do I know her?
Bonnie has been my Facebook friend for years, as animal advocates tend to gather large amounts of “friends” that they don’t really know in person but have similar interests in helping animals.
I saw Bonnie’s posts about her ongoing kidney problems, and when she hit the stage of needing a donor, I volunteered to be tested. We both have Type O blood, which is the crucial first step for anyone willing to donate for her.
Although O is the universal donor, people with type O blood can only receive from each other, so it is harder for those with type O to find a donor.
Bonnie Plafke is a dynamo in her own right.
Inspired by the high kill rate of animals at Miami Dade Animal Services, Bonnie Plafke co-founded the first successful county-backed animal transport program in the country, Dogs on the Move. The transport has saved over 4,800 dogs since its inception in late 2011, and performed the largest-ever transport in November of 2013, saving 215 dogs in a single day. Dogs on the Move is the only rescue group to ever get a Proclamation from the mayor and commissioners of Miami, who declared October 23, 2013 Dogs on the Move Day in Miami. Bonnie also received the Hometown Hero award from the Florida Panthers in April of 2015 for her work with Dogs on the Move. Bonnie was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved to South Florida in 1978.
Bonnie has been married nearly 45 years, and has two children in their early 30s, an executive chef and a copywriter, both living and working in New York City.
When I went to Florida for testing, my husband Joe came with me, and we had dinner with Bonnie and Rob, learning a lot about them and their many years together. Rob thanked me from the bottom of his heart for doing this for his wife, and I jokingly told him that if he wanted rid of her, to let me know and I wouldn’t go through with it. He said, “Well, some days…” (All married couples will understand that joke!)
Of course I didn’t know at the time that I would be unable to go through with it for physical reasons, and it makes me sad for Bonnie’s family now, too.
I’m a firm believer that when you give the gift of life, you’re giving almost as great a gift to yourself as to the recipient of your kidney.
Although I’m super upset on Bonnie’s behalf, I’m selfishly sad for my sake too. With the state of our country today, it’s hard for me to find kindness and goodness to help buoy myself up, find faith in other humans. I wanted something I could feel good about, something to help me believe again.
I’ve been in the animal advocacy movement for over 15 years, and I’m struck over and over again by the willingness of rescuers to tear each other down and destroy each other. How often do they lift each other up? Really be THERE for one another in the way that they deserve?
I was hoping to be part of one of those such stories. But it’s not to be for me.
What about you? Do you want to make a difference for another animal advocate, especially one who’s been instrumental in saving the lives of so many dogs?
If you aren’t in a position to be an organ donor, can you share this post so maybe Bonnie can find her person to make a difference for her? Thank you!
If you’d like to learn more about kidney donation, visit this link. If you’d like to discuss donating to Bonnie in particular, contact Bonnie at 954-638-9943 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions about my experience, feel free to ask questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.