HOW I FOUND MY RHYTHM WHEN THE MUSIC STOPPED

At a time in everyone’s life, we come to find ourselves in a situation where the music stops, and we must go on.  The unfortunate truth about life is that the unexpected will happen. Some of us learn from it, some of us change because of it and some of us find our life’s calling because of it. The latter was the case for me.  After our dad picked us up from middle school, we spent that afternoon like we had every afternoon that month. We went to the oncology unit at the hospital, where my brother was admitted.

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THE MAN IN A BLUE SARONG

I remember him. I remember the man in the dark blue sarong the same way I remember the lines on back of my own hand. He was hunched over next to a column on a dirty platform at a railway station in Calcutta, India in the middle of the harsh summer sun. His hands were withered, his fingers and toes looked like tiny nubs, and he was completely malnourished and alone. He had opaque blue eyes, as if fog had taken place of his irises and pupils.

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PATIENT “OWNERSHIP”

I studied insects in college; my favorite insects were the bees (I found them diligent and so helpful to humankind).  One of my favorite classes was about medical diseases caused by insects. My professors noticed my interest in the medical side of things and connected me with a professor who did clinical research. Our work focused on a clinical trial for children with intractable epilepsy and exposed me early on to patient care and patients.

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the Lexington Medical Society. By July 15th, Commonwealth employees will have organ and bone marrow leave available.


But Beth hasn’t finished yet. On May 20th, an Ordinance for protection of city employees wishing to donate was presented to a committee for the Louisville Metro government. And, on May 28th Louisville Metro Council passed the ordinance unanimously. We hoped to present the same proposal to the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government in April, which is organ donor month, however COVID restrictions delayed the effort. Soon there will be a presentation in Lexington and other municipalities until there is donor protection throughout the Commonwealth. In April 2018, the University of Kentucky adopted a living organ and bone marrow donor policy providing additional leave of 30 days for solid organ and 7 days for bone marrow donation. Such a policy could become a model for the entire Commonwealth.


When HB46 passed Beth could have sent an email or called on the phone. But no, on May 4th she appeared in my office with hero balloons, another selfless act of thanks. For those of us who have been privileged to accompany her on this mission, we know that there is nothing as powerful as an idea set in motion, and not even COVID19 could slow it down. So, thanks to Beth Burbridge, who gave the gift of life herself and will assist many others who wish to do the same. Many thanks to the hero on my right!

Heroes don’t always get the Congressional Medal of Honor, nor do they come bounding off the pages of Marvel or DC Comics. They are not always enshrined in the Hall of Fame. True heroes come from all walks of life. Altruism knows no ethnic or geographic boundaries, and when a life is saved because of a selfless act of kindness, that is heroic. Such a person is Beth Burbridge, UK scholarship athlete, wife, mother of three and a kidney donor to a child on dialysis who needed a lifesaving kidney transplantation. Her decision to donate to a child of a family she didn’t know, who’s plea for a donor was posted in the neighborhood Facebook, was kind and brave by itself. However, it is what she did afterward in her crusade to protect living organ donation that truly sets her apart.


When Beth was approved to be a living kidney donor, she encountered some of the obstacles that plagued other live donor candidates, and which have sometimes caused them to rethink their donation. When she requested leave for the donor surgery, her HR department informed her that her surgery was deemed to be elective since she was healthy. Furthermore, any additional time-off needed to come from paid vacation, and after that it would be unpaid leave. Since her family required two incomes, she tried to return to work within a week which became a difficult endeavor. When Beth was being evaluated as a potential donor, she was given a stack of paperwork to read. Therein was a list of Bills in states with legislation protecting living donors: the line for Kentucky was blank. She contacted her State Representative, Mr. Jerry T. Miller, District 36, and Bill Request 179 (BR179) relating to the promotion of living donor organ and bone marrow donation was authored.  

BY THOMAS WAID, MD


I first met Beth when she testified to the Interim Joint Committee regarding BR179 in September 2019. Members of the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville/ Jewish Hospital Transplantation programs were asked to give testimony in support of this Bill Request. The four of us: Beth, Representative Miller, Dr. Dylan Adamson (transplant surgeon at Jewish Hospital) and I presented facts supporting the Bill Request to the Committee chaired by Senator Ralph Alvarado. The request cleared committee and went on to the House as HB46 “An Act relating to the promotion of living donor human organ and bone marrow donation”. On January 16, 2020 we were again in Frankfort testifying to the House State Government Committee. HB46 passed unanimously, or as they like to say in Frankfort “with favorable expression”. On March 4th, on the brink of the COVID19 statewide shutdown, HB46 passed the House 94-0. On March 18th, Beth was asked to testify to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. She was asked to come alone due to travel and gathering restrictions imposed by COVID social distancing. She didn’t need Dr. Adamson or me. HB 46 passed on the Senate consent calendar 34-0, and on April 24th it was signed into law by Governor Beshear. During the timeframe when the Bill was proceeding through the legislature, I was able to assist in securing the endorsement of the KMA and

THOMAS WAID, MD

Thomas Waid, MD, MS, is a professor of internal medicine specializing in nephrology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from the University of Cincinnati in 1972. He received his master’s degree and medical degree from the University of Kentucky in 1980.