After slogging our way through two years of Covid and now inflation, the rise in gas prices, and the brutal war in Ukraine, we need a feel good story that will make us stand up and cheer. Meet my friend, Kimberly Frick, who stepped up and became a kidney donor for her brother. When I called Kim, before I could even get my first sentence out, I was overcome with emotion.
Emotion and hope that there are other people like Kim and her family who are willing to give a piece of themselves to save someone else.
BRENDA: Everyone who knows you and who follows you on Instagram (@frickspicks) has been cheering for you and your brother and praying for you. It’s been amazing.
KIM: I’ve been given so much love and support. It’s overwhelming. It’s been a long journey, but we got there, and I don’t think we could have gotten through it without all the kindness, love and support and prayers.
BRENDA: You told me a lot of people had messaged you on Instagram. What have they been saying?
KIM: Many had donated a kidney and were telling me everything was going to be great. There were also lots of people who are waiting for a kidney, or their loved ones are waiting. This is something my whole family has been going through for eleven and a half years. I come from five siblings, and we are very close, and everyone wanted to do this for my brother. The peaks and valleys have been unbelievable during this whole process.
BRENDA: He’s needed a kidney for eleven and a half years?
KIM: Since he was in middle school, my brother has been a Type 1 diabetic, and kidney failure can be a part of that. Eleven years ago his kidneys started failing, and we started the genetic testing process for all of us. My younger sister was the best match, but they found a problem with her, so they went to me. As I was going through the testing, they found a mass in my right breast. At the time I thought if it was breast cancer, my brother was saving my life instead of the other way around, but it was benign.
Then the years passed, and my brother’s GFR numbers (they tell how much kidney function you have) have been up and down. They don’t do a transplant until your numbers are below a certain level: when you’re doing pretty bad. A year and a half ago he started sliding downhill pretty quickly, so we addressed the donor issue again. My younger sister was up again until they found she had breast cancer. My brother did save her life! So they looked at me again, and I went through extensive testing again. Any abnormality and they won’t consider you. I finally got approved, but his GFR numbers were problematic, so they weren’t sure he qualified for a transplant.
BRENDA: From what I’ve read, people don’t qualify for a transplant until they have end-stage kidney disease. That has to be so scary, because it becomes a race against time.
KIM: Exactly. His numbers kept going up and down. One week he qualified for surgery, and the next week he didn’t, but they finally decided it was now or never. I’ve been in quarantine since last August. I haven’t done anything, because if you get Covid, it can affect your kidneys.
We set the date, and we did it, and it’s a miracle.
BRENDA: The day before, moments before, were you nervous or scared?
KIM: My biggest fear was that I would wake up from surgery and he didn’t. And because of his diabetes, there could be other complications. They really won’t take you unless they think there will be a good outcome. There’s so many people waiting for a kidney, they’re not going to do this if they don’t think you’re a good candidate to give or receive, and we had excellent teams.
BRENDA: Tell me about the last time before surgery that you saw or talked to your brother.
KIM: It was the day before. He came to my daughter’s apartment, and we met outside on the corner. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life. We both knew we were saying, this is it. Let’s do it, and I hope this isn’t the end. It was very emotional. But the morning of the surgery I was as cool as a cucumber. Let’s do this! Let’s get this show on the road!
BRENDA: How long was your surgery?
KIM: About two and a half or three hours, and his was about five hours. Mine was a laparoscopy. I have one larger incision, lower, and one puncture—I call it a puncture—midway and one underneath my breast. Not too bad.
BRENDA: Talk to me about living with one kidney now. Do you have any restrictions on what you can eat or drink?
KIM: It depends on who you talk to. Some people say you should follow a DASH diet: a low salt, high fiber, not a lot of protein. I shouldn’t do Keto because it puts a lot of stress on the kidney. Not a lot of alcohol. I can’t have any alcohol until eight weeks after surgery, and then just a glass of wine. Also I need to drink lots and lots of water. We’ll know more in a couple of weeks when they do some testing on me. My brother’s test levels are excellent now.
BRENDA: Did your brother’s insurance pay for this or yours?
KIM: My brother’s insurance paid for it, plus there are social programs to pay for the donor’s travel, hotel and food expenses. Since everyone in my family, but me, lives in Chicago—where the surgery took place—I didn’t need it. Also there’s an exchange program: If your mother needs a kidney, but you’re not a match, you can become a match for someone else, and your loved one can get a kidney from someone in the program who is a match. Those have been really successful. There are also people who donate for altruistic reasons.
To be a living donor like that, they’re the real heroes. They have no selfish motivation, and there are more than you know.
BRENDA: What do you want people to know about being a kidney donor?
KIM: The first two weeks are tough. It’s like any major surgery. Some people bounce back right away and are walking immediately. But two weeks is nothing compared to someone else having a shot at life. If you’ve had your gallbladder out, it’s similar. They fill your stomach with gas, so that’s the pain, but they give you medicine and you feel pretty good. Our surgery was March 10, World Kidney Day. We didn’t even know it.
BRENDA: Any misconceptions about being a donor you’d like to address?
KIM: People think there’s an age limit to being a donor, but that’s not true if you’re healthy. I’m 64, about to be 65. I read about an 85-year-old man in Canada who donated one of his kidneys to his neighbor. Obviously his was healthy enough to take. There are nonliving donors as well. There are 72 things they can take from you after you’re gone, so why not give them so others can have a better life?
BRENDA: After James died, several organizations wrote me thank you notes and told me his corneas helped two people see again, and his skin was used to help burn victims.
KIM: It’s amazing how we can continue to help people. They can even take a slice of your liver.
BRENDA: I hope this encourages people to sign the back of their driver’s license and become an organ donor.
KIM: It’s been a miracle. I’m speechless because so far, knock wood, we’ve been very lucky. Our entire family has gone above and beyond to see us through this, and it took every one of them! My brother asked if I was going to post anything on Instagram (Kim has 23K followers), but he’s so private. Then he decided if we could help other people, let’s do it. So we made that sign, and I sat on the front step, and the outpouring was just unbelievable.
BRENDA: So many people have received a tough diagnosis, or a family member has, and we wished someone could have helped us, so it doesn’t surprise me people have come out in support. And with all the craziness in the world, this is a feel good story that could do a lot of good.
KIM: The more we get the word out, the better. Thank you, Brenda!
Thank you Brenda for helping spread the word using your talents to tell our story. My entire family is so very grateful to you and everyone who has been praying, sending positive vibes, sending encouragement and love! To all the doctors whose skills and care make this a possibility bless you and your families. To my family and friends I cannot adequately express my deep love and thanks. May God protect my brother as he heals and may he have a long and healthier life. BELIEVE ❤️
Kim, BELIEVE is right, because without it, we don’t have hope and life can be overwhelming. Thank you for allowing me to tell your family’s story. Actually, I was compelled to write about it, because it is the very embodiment of love and hope. I continue to pray for all of you. Love, Brenda
Everyone reading this post should be certain they have designated themselves as an organ donor on their drivers license. Fortunately we all have two kidneys, so we can donate one. Many don’t realize that the remaining kidney will step up to the plate, and function nearly as well as the two! But what about single organs? We can’t donate those, and live! Patients needing hearts, lungs, and livers have to rely on us to donate our organs post mortem. If you don’t designate this or express your wishes to family, preferably in a legal document, like your power of attorney, then all to often, family members in distress refuse to allow donation of organs after your brain ceases to function and you have no say. Please designate that you are an organ donor. In this day and age, almost every part of your body is useful to someone in need.
Thank you, Dr. Bergin, for encouraging and supporting organ donation. The only good thing to come out of my husband, James’s, death was that he continued to make a difference in the lives of people who desperately needed what only he could give. xoxox, Brenda
You’re right, a feel-good story was just what I needed this morning, Brenda! Thank you for spreading the word. And thanks for your wise and informative comment, Barbara Bergin.
Happy to hear Ms. Frick and her brother are doing well; wishing them both continued health and well-being.
Thank you, Donna, for your love and support. I hope you’re happy, well and challenged. xoxox, Brenda
We do need a feel good story. Thank you for sharing and blessing to Kim and her family.
Thank you Lois, and blessings to you and your family as well. xoxox, Brenda
Thank you for letting us share in your journey. Because a young man had designated being a donor in his driver’s license, my husband received his kidney almost 12 years ago. Cinco de Mayo has become a magical day to our family.
I hope you and your brother continue in good health for many years.
Shannon, Awesome! You and your family already know the power and the blessings of organ donation! How grateful you must continue to be and what a huge gift it is! The power to change someone’s life so profoundly! Continued blessings and good health tooth of you. xoxox, Brenda
Thanks Brenda. As I read this article I am in Oklahoma City with my husband and daughter in law. My husband is having a kidney transplant on Monday because of the inexpressible generosity of our daughter in law. We do feel overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude, first for our wonderful daughter in law, and then for the support of our family, who are arriving tomorrow. Then the outpouring of love and prayers is tremendous for me. I, like Kim’s brother am pretty private and have had to work to open to what is happening all around us. I realized yesterday that our opening our hearts about what is happening allows others to offer their hearts as well. I see this as an opportunity that I think I would have missed. In a world so full to the brim of suffering, sharing our situation has created a reciprocal heart opening well beyond just our family. I keep hearing that my work, our work is to bring our light to the suffering and heartbreak of our world. I know that this love coming towards us moves out beyond us and into the fabric of the world. I always want to know what I can do and I’ve just discovered it is to open my heart going in and out.
Blessings and healing to your wonderful family. As you mentioned, our work is to bring light to the suffering and heartbreak of our world. Thank you for sharing. Wishing you all the best, from Canada.
Yvonne, Thank you, sweet lady! Blessings to you in Canada. xoxox, Brenda
Betty, You, your husband, daughter-in-law and their medical teams are in my prayers, and I’m happy this has given you an opportunity to see, firsthand, how sharing our stories helps others. It gives them strength and gives them the opportunity to strengthen us in return. What a joyous return! Will you let me know how surgery went and keep me posted? I hope Kim and her brother’s story give all of you strength and confidence as you go into this next week. Sending you all prayers and much love, Brenda
Such an uplifting story! All the best to Kim and her family especially her brother. Blessings to all of you. Stay strong!
Yes, stay strong. Thank you for reading and sending love to Kim and her family and brother! That’s a wonderful gift to give someone else. xoxox, Brenda
WHAT A HEART FEELING GOOD STORY THIS IS……………
I WISH YOU AND YOUR BROTHER THE BEST OUT COME!
THINKING OF YOU!
Blessings to you Elizabeth for reading and sending Kim and her brother good wishes. Hope all is well with you. xoxox, Brenda
Dear Contessa, Thank you for all your love & support. Forever grateful
I’m a blubbering mess after reading Kim and her family’s story and reading all the comments. A few minutes ago I signed the back of my driver’s license. Blessings to all of you and thank you Brenda for telling their story. I’m passing this on to my friends.
That you signed your drivers license! Thank you so much!!!!! Now I’m crying!
God bless you and your brother for sharing your story. This is exactly what you hoped would happen! xoxox, Brenda
Brava, Arlo! Kim and her brother and their family will be thrilled to hear this has been your response. Yes!!!! Thank you, Brenda
No matter what my week has been I know when I open your blog on Saturday morning I’m going to feel better. This is no exception. Thank you for sharing their story. We all need to be aware that we can keep making a difference in someone’s life even after we’re gone. I wish Kim and her brother good health. Xo, Barb
Thank you, Barb! I appreciate you more than you know, and am blessed to be the vehicle to share their story. xoxox, Brenda
My heart is soft after reading this and listening to Adele in the background. Seeing photos of this Kim made me think of an insta/blog friend named Kim whose blog is called Northern California Style. They resemble each other and could be relatives, and the Kim I know has that same kindness as part of her make-up. As a 77 year old whose organs may not be useful when it’s my time, I am donating my body for research to a university hospiital. It’s another option for helping those who come after. Thanks for the stories you present, always interesting and edifying.
Thank you, Sheila, for reminding us there are other ways of continuing to help one another after we die. What a beautiful donation!! I know the other Kim you’re talking about. Isn’t it interesting that out of the millions of people on Instagram, those of us with similar hearts and the desire to help others find one another? Blessings sweet lady. xoxox, Brenda
What an uplifting story about the power of love and the desire to help someone else. Thanks for the reminder that we’re the ones who benefit from helping others.
So true, Connie! We are also the beneficiaries of doing good things for others and lifting one another up. Thank you!!! xoxo, Brenda
Love this beautiful family story. Thanks so much for sharing.
Thank you for reading it and leaving me a comment Karen. I appreciate you. You and readers like you are why I continue to write Brenda’s Blog. xoxox, Brenda
I so admire kim for what she has done. So glad you related her story here