NextGear Capital’s Stacie Williamson Shares Why She became a Living Organ Donor
Becoming a living organ donor may seem like a scary decision to most people, but to Stacie Williamson, it was more like an easy choice, a natural calling. Stacie is a Regional Sales Director at NextGear Capital, and embodies the concept of community service: giving for community member without expecting anything in return.
Stacie had never really thought about the living organ donor program, until she heard a complete stranger’s story. We are all connected to many other individuals through family members, friends, coworkers – but we never think that those connections might someday save a life. Eddie Lett had been on the organ transplant waiting list for four years and was about to be placed on the waitlist yet again, when Stacie heard his story.
Stacie’s sister works with Eddie’s wife. Stacie’s sister told her that Eddie was awaiting a kidney transplant and was on dialysis every night, while continuing to work 40-hour work weeks. Throughout his years on the waitlist, Eddie never said “Why me?” He knew that during a trying time like this, he could not place blame or let it bring him down. He had things to accomplish and a beautiful family to live for, including three children and three grandchildren.
Stacie explained that after hearing Eddie’s story, “Something just stuck with me… over the next week I thought about it a lot.” It was Eddie’s drive and motivation that inspired Stacie to step up to the plate. She had a physical scheduled about a month later and talked about the option of becoming a living organ donor with her physician. Stacie was about to embark on a community service journey unlike any other. She explained, “Once I was there and heard them talk about the process… I just knew!”
Stacie then learned about the donor swap program in which, if a donor is not a match with the individual he or she is seeking to help, the donor could be matched up with someone else on the waiting list. Stacie was hopeful she would be a match for Eddie, but was glad that whether she matched Eddie’s needs or not, she could save a life! Her mind was made up that one way or another, she would be a living organ donor.
“I wasn’t scared at all. I knew it was what I was meant to do,” Stacie said. She attributes her lack of fear to her faith. It took about six weeks to get through testing and exams to see if Stacie’s kidney would be compatible with Eddie’s needs.
In the end, Stacie was a perfect match for Eddie! But it wasn’t that simple. Eddie was completely unaware that a stranger had been going through the necessary tests in order to donate her kidney to save his life. Now Stacie was afraid Eddie would not accept her help. She had heard about what a selfless person Eddie was, and feared he would not want put a stranger and her family in what he might deem a difficult position. She wrote him a letter explaining her journey and why she was confident in her choice.
Eddie was at a point of major decline in health and needed help more than ever when he received Stacie’s letter. He explained how grateful he is for Stacie, stating, “I never really thought angels walk the earth, but apparently they do.” Eddie accepted Stacie’s help, the two families met, and Stacie’s choice was solidified.
The Support of NextGear Capital
While Stacie was ready take on this challenge, she knew it would be a time commitment that could lead to complications in her own life. Stacie had recently been promoted to her management position with NextGear Capital, and had a lot of ongoing projects and training. She contacted the Vice President of her department, Susan Moritz, to request her support in this endeavor. Susan didn’t hesitate to back Stacie’s decision. Stacie was thrilled at how supportive Susan and the rest of her team were throughout the process.
Stacie was in the hospital for the transplant procedure for several days and was at home recovering for an additional two weeks. While she was able to do some work from home, she was grateful for the flexibility from her NextGear Capital team who share her passion and commitment to community service.
An Ongoing Impact
Through her act of kindness, not only did Stacie save a life, but she also gained a family. She remains in regular contact with Eddie and his wife, and is more excited than ever to bring awareness to the difference individuals can make by becoming organ donors. Whether it be living organ donors, or simply checking the organ donor box on a driver’s license, the impact is immeasurable.
Stacie will continue to take part in community service efforts by participating in organ donation events and awareness programs to share her message and experience with potential donors. She did not view her decision to become a donor as a difficult choice, she saw it as her duty to answer a need. “If anyone can get through to some people, I think it’s going to be her,” Eddie said of Stacie’s ongoing effort to work with potential living organ donors.
Neither Eddie nor Stacie realized the number of people who are on the waiting list for organ transplants at any given time. But thanks to Stacie’s courageous donation, Eddie is alive and healthy, and continues to spread hope to individuals on that waiting list. He passes on what knowledge he has about the program to other people in need of a transplant, encouraging optimism and showing that he is proof – it can get better.