How Harold Is Rocking 1 Kidney

ParadeCoverHaroldHi, my name is Harold.  Next week, I will celebrate 13 years rocking it with one kidney.

The story of how I came to donate my left kidney to a complete stranger is a good one.  As a matter of fact, I think it’s one of the best, true-to-life fairy tales as you’ll ever hear.  It starts with a “once upon a time” and finishes with a “happily ever after.”  But that story will have to be told another time because today, I want to share with you a bit about my life after the “happily ever after.”

Following are some snippets of my life since donating my left kidney (“Lefty”) back in December of 2000.

Two months after my donation, I had the opportunity to meet my recipient, Gennet Belay.  You couldn’t find two more opposite people if you tried.  And yet, we’re as close as family today as I am with my own flesh and blood.  Hey, wait… She IS my own flesh and blood…

Six months after donating, Gennet and I landed on the cover of Parade Magazine.  In the following weeks, I received notes and letters from my 5th grade teacher, my Little League baseball coach, three ex-girlfriends, the US Supreme Court, patients on the “waiting list” and from complete strangers from all over the country…

Since donating, I participated in three US National Transplant Games where I’ve regularly competed in the 5k race event.  LOVE the games, HATE the running…

Soon after donating, I spoke to my first high school classroom about my story.  Since then, I have spoken with more than 10,000 teens around the country, encouraging them to discuss organ donation with their families and to consider signing their drivers license to become an organ donor…

In 2001, I met the first of many other “altruistic kidney donors”, a small but growing number of people with diverse yet similar traits and characteristics.  Since then, I’ve met more than two dozen altruistic donors.  We discovered some interesting similar characteristic traits: that we were virtually all blood donors growing up, many of us are risk takers (parachute jumpers, bungee jumpers, etc…) and that we all cry when we watch Bambi, Old Yeller and Titanic

In 2002, I was asked by close friends to fly to Germany to perform their wedding ceremony seeing as how I had signed up decades earlier to be a “legally ordained minister” from an ad in the back of Rolling Stone Magazine

Before my donation, I had lost three cell phones by leaving them in the back seats of taxicabs.  Since donating, I haven’t lost a single one…

Before my donation, I had never even tried Ethiopian food.  Since donating, I love it and eat it regularly.  Gennet (my recipient) and her husband are Ethiopian and introduced me to the joys of raw meat, spicy veggies and eating with my hands…

Four years ago, I quit my 25-year career in advertising and marketing to accept a job with my best friend from high school – a Hollywood movie director.  My wife and I sold our home in Arlington, Virginia and moved to Malibu, California where I now help create media that helps us all recognize how intimately connected we all are…

Since donating, I’ve embraced my life’s guiding theme: Follow the Joy.  When choices/decisions present themselves, I tend to choose the path that will lead me to the most joy.  Donating my kidney has led me to so many beautiful and joyous experiences.  So many it’s hard to imagine…


4 Responses to “How Harold Is Rocking 1 Kidney”

  1. admin

    You are an inspiration to us all, Harold! Rock on!

  2. Kim Chaffin

    So excited to run a story on a women who choose to give her kidney after reading your story. I am going to be running it March 3 rd on my website and she talks about how you inspired her. What an amazing story you have and I wanted you to know you have inspired others. I hope you give it a read. The women I am writing about knew after reading your article it was what she needed to do. From her story another women choose to also give her kidney and I am writing about her also. It seems to be a chain reaction started by you. Blessings.

    • Doni Guyer

      Hi Harold, I am thrilled to hear about your new adventures in life. I think of you often and still hope we can meet someday. I wear the Life Save you gave me often and it always sparks our story. Blessings to you. Doni

    • Harold

      Howdy, Kim. Harold here. Ok, I’ve got to start this note with a confession… I’m not sure I believe in an almighty overseer. It sounds nice, but I’m just not sure about it… Ok. I’ve gotten that outta the way. How do you feel about “coincidences”? I used to think they were odd little events that happened every now and then just to keep us amazed. As I’ve lived my life, though, I’ve noticed that these “coincidences” are starting to happen at a faster and faster clip. Once sporadic and infrequent, these intersecting storylines are now happening, in fact, quite regularly. The latest? You and Doni. Doni and I. Doni and I haven’t communicated with each other in a few years. Maybe more. Recentily was asked by Jen at Rock 1 Kidney to talk a bit about my post donation experience. Within a few weeks, I get a note from her telling me about a woman who donated because she read that Parade article years ago. I followed the links to your blog and VOILA! It was about your meeting Doni. By the way, I read that blog today, March 3rd. This is the 26th anniversary of my dad’s passing. Many “dominoes” fell to get me onto that surgeon’s table, but one of the largest and heaviest was his passing at a relatively early age. Yet another coincidence. Lastly, you mentioned in your note, “…It seems to be a chain reaction started by you…” Nope. We can trace the events back, before me. I read an article about a teacher in NC who donated one of her kidneys to one of her students. I was shocked and amazed when I read that and it got me to raise my hand and start asking questions… The connections between these events, be they coincidences or guided by a higher power… are beautiful. Thanx for writing about Doni. I guarantee someone will read that post and, eventually, more dominoes will fall. Be well.


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