About Me

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Chicago, Illinois, United States
Make Life Happen! Welcome to all of you who visit. If you are looking into becoming a Living Donor and would like a detailed idea of my journey..scroll down and begin with the older posts first. I welcome any questions or topics that you would like to know more about.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Meet My Recipient, Dr. Daniel Becker

I have had so many people ask me if I knew who would be getting my kidney and the answer was no. Since I am an altruistic donor my kidney goes to who needs it and that is the most important thing. During my evaluation process to become qualified as kidney donor, one of the many questions I was asked was you would like to meet your recipient?
My answer was yes of course! But only if it was comfortable for the recipient to do so. I have to remind myself that even though this is a tremendous gift to someone you must also respect their privacy for whatever reasons they might have.

Fortunately I have had the honor of meeting my recipient. As I said in my earlier blogs all of us were invited to the press conference following our surgeries. It was an amazing moment, truly a life changing moment. None of us had any idea that this would be the largest kidney pairing Northwestern had ever done. I know that the hospital had to bring an extra staff of 40 people in order to handle this huge kidney exchange and would require a tremendous amount of coordination and endless hours of matching and scheduling for the Transplant Staff to make it all happen. To them, I give my thanks for their dedication.

Dr. Dan Becker, a veterinarian in Naperville, Illinois is the gentleman that ended up receiving my kidney in the pairing process. Dan graduated from University of Illinois in 1984 and has been a veterinarian for 26 years this month! He practices at Boulder Terrace Animal Hospital in Naperville and has a lot of cute, fury fans. I wanted to speak to him first before writing this as I respect his privacy. I was so happy that he is allowing me to share his story. Dan felt it was an important part getting the word out about the importance being a Living Kidney Donor.

Dan and I didn’t have much time to really speak the day of the press conference. All of us were exhausted, on pain medication and were anxious to go home. I asked him to describe to me the events leading up to his needing a kidney transplant. He was diagnosed with diabetes at the very early age of 3 years old. Dan and his parents, Dick and Lynn Becker and his siblings knew that eventually he would most likely need a kidney transplant. August of 2009 Dan’s kidneys were shutting down and his fears were confirmed. He did go on dialysis and he had to coordinate his dialysis treatments so that he could go home afterwards. It was extremely exhausting for him and he had issues with dehydration. The idea of being on dialysis for an extended amount of time was definitely not a happy one. Now knowing what needed to happen, Dan and his family immediately started looking into finding a donor for him. His staff, family and friends were all supportive and many stepped forward to donate. Some were eliminated because they did not qualify, others because they were not a match. It was actually Dan’s receptionist that recommended Northwestern Hospital as an option as her Mother had received a transplant there.

Dan’s sister, Pam was determined and although she was not a direct match for Dan she wanted to be part of this kidney exchange pairing so it would be possible for her Brother to receive a kidney. She flew in from Atlanta at her own expense to participate as did Dan’s parents Dick and Lynn Becker to be there for support to Dan and Pam. In Dan’s mind, struggling with diabetes most of his life, he was amazed that the need for a transplant had not happened sooner. He managed to keep his diabetes under control with close medical monitoring, diet, exercise and insulin but after so many years it became too much.

Needless to say he was extremely grateful to his Sister for stepping up on his behalf in this pairing and I am sure the recipient of her kidney is as well! He received the magic phone call on Good Friday that Northwestern had found a match for him and his surgery was scheduled for April 26, 2010.

His progress has been excellent and no dialysis! His numbers were normal before he even left the hospital. Dan brings a very important topic to the table. It is imperative it to get the word out about the importance of living donor ship and kidney pairings. In our conversations he brought up an interesting point. Some people are more than willing to donate providing the person they want receives their kidney, but not open to it if the person they know is not going to be the recipient. What people need to understand is if they are donating a kidney in a pairing exchange like ours…EVERYBODY WINS! Being a living kidney donor to me, is a Kidney Squad Team who are there to benefit as many people as possible. Since I was an altruistic donor and Dan’s Sister was not compatible to donate directly to him, he received my kidney.

I saw Dan a week after our surgeries at our follow up appointments at Northwestern. I was amazed at how GREAT he looked. Surgery for the recipient is more intricate than the donors. He was sporting 34 staple stitches. Wow…ok…I am definitely not going to complain about my small incisions. I remember saying to Dan at the press conference to remember two things…if he craved dark chocolate that was me and if he found himself saying I have to pee out loud..that was definitely my trademark.

If you are interested in becoming a living kidney donor...Make life happen!

WTTW, Channel 11 Interview, May 19, 2010


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the details of your experience in being a living donor and the additional information about the fortunate beneficiary of your selfless act.

My brother and I were registered for a year for a paired kidney donation, but his condition worsened before a living donor/recipient pair could be matched with us.I can truly relate to Pam's desire to help her brother.

Although my brother died needing a kidney, I can celebrate for Dan and Pam and can only imagine the relief they experienced when "the call" came! Because of you, Cara, eight people and their loved ones no longer live the "roller coaster" existence of a dialysis patient needing a kidney.

There are tens of thousands more out there, just like Dan and my brother. Thank you, Cara, for what you are doing to inspire those of us with healthy bodies to consider being a LIVING DONOR.

Your enthusiasm, passion and conviction regarding the cause of living kidney donors comes through loud and clear! Keep posting!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for giving selflessly. Dan has been a dear friend of mine for 20 some years. You are truly and inspiration.

Anonymous said...

For those of us who have known and loved Dan for years, we cannot thank you enough for your wonderful gift. You are truly an inspiration. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

apaglino said...

This is fantastic! Keep the posts coming. You killed me with the dark chocolate and peeing comment.

Vince Welsh said...


This is an amazing and fantastic thing you've done. My best to you.

Alvin said...

One can only hope that this incredible unselfish majestic gift of life you gave continues the "Pay Forward" chain forever. If every human being was as considerate and passionate as you it would be a much better world to live in. This story should be front and center on all media instead of all the negative news events that are splashed upon us every minute.
Good Karma should come back to you 1,000 fold !!!!!!!!

David and Loretta Burber said...

We just saw you last night on Channel 11 and my wife and I want to thank you for stepping forward to be a donor. I have been fighting with diabetes for several years and I am going to probably need a kidney transplant. My wife wanted to donate but cant beacause she has high blood pressure. We are defintely going to look into a paring exchange. We watch Channel 11 a lot and are so glad we saw last nights show. You are a really special person for doing this and we wish you many blessings.

Ashley said...

There aren't words to thank you for the sacrifice that you've made & for the gift that you've given through your kidney donation. I'm Daniel's neice & Pamela's daughter. There is no greater gift than the gift of life. You have opened the door for so many people. You & the other donors are heros to so many. May you always know what a blessing you are to my family & the families of the other recipients. I'm so proud of your gift & the sacrifice that you have made. I'm also so very proud of the gift & sacrifice that my mom has made to help someone else & in turn Uncle Dan. I filled out the questionaire & do to medical problems of my own, was screened out. What a gift to know that not only will he no longer have to be on dialysis, but someone else will also not have to be on dialysis. I am a hospital social worker & see everyday the toll that dialysis takes on a person's body, spirit, family & life. You have made the ultimate sacrifice to give Uncle Dan a second chance at a life without dialysis. Our family, his friends, his community & his patients know the value of Dan. Thank you is such an inadequate thing to say to you for what you have done. May you always know that you hold a special place in the hearts of the extended Becker family. We are forever greatful for you!
Thank you,

Cara said...


Thank you so very much for your note and of course your Mother deserves kudos and so much more for her participation in this all.
Harvey Mysel speaks to so many groups of social workers. You all see first hand every single day the battles of those on dialysis. I applaude you for your work and kidness to others.


Christine and Richard said...

My name is Christine and almost 20 years ago I received a kidney from my brother Richard. I saw you and the other panelists on "Chicago Tonight". The show's website linked me to your blog. What a wonderful discussion about living organ donation! You all were terrific and effective advocates for living kidney donation. What you said about your own motivation to become a living donor moved me and I have no doubt moved others who were watching. By being a donor and by sharing your story you are helping to improve the kidney shortage in this country. Thank you!

My brother Rich and I have been doing great since the transplant. After all these years, my kidney function is still nearly perfect and I've had no other serious setbacks. I work full time and lead a totally normal life. Rich is very healthy and in great shape. I expect the future to be no different.

Each time I hear of a multi-person kidney pairing I am blown away by both the selflessness of the altruistic donor who is essential to make the whole thing possible in the first place, and the tireless work of the doctors, nurses, and volunteers who make it happen. Thank you again for your compassion and generosity. I look forward to reading your blog. It was great to see you on television and "meet" you in cyberspace.

Anonymous said...

wow! Looks as though I'm a little late but know that your story, journey, and grace continue to radiate hope and love :)

I, too, am a type1-diabetic & have struggled with my condition for just about half of my Life now- approx. 11 years.Throughout my teens, my glucose levels roller-coastered &, before graduating HS, was diagnosed with clinical depression (common among juveniles w/ diabetes) & hypothyroidism.

Currently in a much more stable condition, I am still required to take a few pills & insulin injections each day -- medication to prevent kidney damage has recently been added to that list. So, stumbling over your Story & stopping to read it through has been motivational as well as very much appreciated.
Unable to donate blood/organs myself but wanting to since a young age, I was surprised that I hadn't previously recognized the point Dan made about donors. How admirable of you to embrace your scars, shattering the social connotation & standards of beauty; & for taking an opportunity- provided by advances/abilities in medicine & technology- to offer an end to some suffering endured by someone in need whose life would be otherwise cut short but has instead been blessed by you!