National Donor Sabbath is observed in Menlo Park with a free screening of “Perfect Strangers”
Menlo Park resident Linda Umbach considers herself one of the lucky ones, when it comes to living with kidney disease: “I didn’t die in my 20s from the auto immune disease that triggered my kidney problems. I made it 40 plus years without getting a transplant — and never had to go on dialysis. And I got a ‘good’ kidney.”
She remembers getting the call that a kidney was available in 2008. “My husband and I had both gone to bed, realizing that we hadn’t planned anything for our wedding anniversary the next day,” she said. “The call came around 3:00 in the morning. It was a different kind of anniversary celebration!”
Linda had been on the donor list for three years and was in end stage renal disease at the time. “Most people wait seven or eight years. I was able to last as long as I did by eating a special kidney diet.”
Along with a group of other local people, Linda founded the The Bay Area Association of Kidney Patients. On Sunday, November 15, that organization in partnership with Trinity Church in Menlo Park (330 Ravenswood Avenue), is presenting the award-winning documentary, Perfect Strangers, in Trinity Hall beginning at noon. The movie tells the story of Ellie, who embarks on an unpredictable journey of twists and turns, determined to donate one of her kidneys. Meanwhile, there is someone 500 miles away from her who endures daily home dialysis while waiting for that perfect kidney match.
November 15 is a National Donor Sabbath, a time to remember, pray for, and thank all those who have donated organs both in life and in death. The event, free and open to the public, includes lunch.
“We’re going to have Jan Krawitz, the film’s director, with us along with Thomas Kelly, co-founder of Waitlist Zero and Betsy Bucter, who is a transplant nurse,” Linda said. “We are really hoping to raise awareness about the need to increase living kidney donations.
Note: The Bay Area Association of Kidney Patients’ website is rich in resources for kidney patients and their families.
Photo of The Rev. Matthew Dutton-Gillett, rector of Trinity Church, and Linda Umbach by Linda Hubbard (c) 2105