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GUEST COLUMN

Tis better to be prepared to receive

If your daughter needed a kidney, would you give her one of yours? Of course you would.

But would you think about how to prepare her spirit to receive it?

I recently interviewed John St. Augustine, an author and executive producer for "Oprah and Friends" radio, who donated a kidney to his daughter five years ago. His perspective on his donation, or "transfer" as he calls it, was fascinating.

"I knew I had this physical organ that I could give her. But I also had to instill in her this connection, this belief, that I wasn't giving her something so much as I had been holding it for her until she needed it," he said.

His daughter, Amanda, was born with a kidney defect. By age 5, her right kidney had become toxic and was removed. By the time she required a transplant, at 13, St. Augustine was already thinking about the emotional implications.

He realized the mere fact that you have to take drugs to prevent "rejection" reflects fear-based thinking that may have a negative placebo effect on the transplant results.

"'Rejection' means I can't accept this from you," he said. "However if you have the ability to prepare for 'acceptance,' as opposed to being worried about 'rejection', there's a huge difference."

John and his wife, Jackie, chose to consciously alter their thoughts.

"If we are all created by the same matter and we are all one, it doesn't matter who has the kidney," he said. Praying on this premise with Amanda, they helped her prepare to physically receive what they believed was already part of her spirit.

I don't know about you, but if I'm going to give - or get - a kidney, it sure would be nice to know that all parties involved had prayed over the little bugger before they popped it out under the blinding lights of the O.R.

Five years down the line, Amanda St. Augustine is a beautiful, leggy college freshman. I've met her and, despite having to operate within a skinnier waistline and tighter jeans, the family kidney appears to be thriving in its new home. And I must say, much as I like John St. Augustine, I'm thinking that the kidney probably looks a little better on the cute blonde than it did on her father.

People say that being a mother is like having your heart walking around outside of your body. But what's it like being a dad and having your kidney go off to college - a second time - without you?

John St. Augustine (www.JohnStAugustine.com) responds, "I wonder if she'll feel the urge to drink Wild Turkey and Coke. But I've told her, 'If the theories about organ retention are really true, I'll know exactly what you're doing all the time.'"

Can you imagine taking your dad on your dates?

Yet I think St. Augustine visibly paled when I pointed out, "If organs do have memories, that means she knows everywhere you've been and everything you've done."

He writes about his experiences in his book, "Living an Uncommon Life: Essential Lessons from 21 Extraordinary People" (Hampton Roads, $19.95), in which he also shares the inspiring stories of individuals he's met during his lengthy career as an award-winning radio personality.

He says of the transplant, "It made me a better person, a better dad, and it made me understand the world better and the concept of giving."

"From the day we are born, we have this sense of entitlement of what is ours. 'This is my house. This is my car.' But it's not even our body. It's only ours until we are done using it," he said.

Note to self, make sure you've signed your organ donation card.

None of us can predict how we will be called upon to give, but the spirit in which we make the transfer counts just as much as the gift itself.

Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally syndicated columnist and the author of "Forget Perfect" and "Finding Grace When You Can't Even Find Clean Underwear." Contact her or join her interactive blog at www.ForgetPerfect.com.

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