Happy Birthday Allan, I am thrilled to know you’re still traveling.

Today I am going to tell a story that is dedicated to my friend Allan. I would like to wish him a Happy Birthday because he recently turned 80; so Happy Birthday Allan!

As you may already be aware, I work as a travel agent in a incredible firm; let’s just say, it’s a very remarkable and respected firm. What makes this firm “just a bit different from others” is the wealth of knowledge, its world-wide contacts, and above all, the diversity of the staff.

I am posting this story not to boost my ego, but to tell a story, since travel agents do deal with a rather broad range of topics, and issues. Without further ado, I shall begin my story:
After working with this agency for about 2 years, one of my co-workers, Allan, became rather ill. It was apparent something was definitely wrong; and so the “gossip mill” started going at full speed.

Allan was no longer “yelling and screaming;” but he became rather quiet which was totally uncharacteristic. This unusual behavior only caused the office to want to pry into Allan’s personal life to discover “What is wrong with Allan?”

I cannot stress to the reader how wonderful a person Allan is, but as we all know, once the gossip mill starts running, rumors are sure to follow. The rumor was that Allan needed a liver transplant.

So I take it upon myself to make an appointment with my doctor to speak with him about the situation. My doctor and I have gone through a lot together, so he was not surprised that I would offer to donate a portion of my liver to help my friend.

He said yes I could.

The following Monday morning I ask to meet with Allan and his wife Ina, who is the owner of the travel agency. For those of you who were die hard fans of the television program called “Dynasty,” you will find Ina is very similar to the character of Alexis Carrington. She remains one of the most incredibly bright, creative, and caring persons one could ever get to know; but I digress.

In their office we discussed “something.” (Generally we have an “open door” policy in the office; but, there are occasions when the door needs to be closed with no interruptions.)

In our conversation I mentioned that I was aware that Allan needed a liver transplant and that my doctor had advised me that I could donate a portion of my liver if we were a “match.” I won’t go into the kaleidoscope of emotions that followed, but I was corrected and it turns out that Allan needed a kidney transplant.

That was not on my agenda, but as we discussed this further I looked down upon my kidney area and asked my kidneys if they minded being separated. I explained to them that they had over 50 years together and did one of them mind leaving to try and save a person’s life.

Allan and his wife were looking at me as though I was totally nuts, but my kidneys replied “Heck why not, let’s give it a try.”

To this Allan almost fell off his chair, while Ina took the news more seriously. She was amazed, and even though Allan is notoriously known for his temper, his puppy-dog-at-heart personality had him in shock. However, the news was starting to sink in for both of them.

Allan responds with a string of comments that turned the scene into a satire. Just out of a movie, the classic straight man wonders if he would turn gay. Ina told him that she would love him nonetheless, trying to calm him down; but my rather sarcastic personality piqued at this opportunity to tease and I told Ina that I simply would not be responsible if Allan started to wear her clothes and accessories.

Ina broke out laughing saying we were all totally insane, but when she was finally able to keep her sides from splitting, she asked us to leave her office while she started the process of making this transplant a reality.

I made it very clear that I would only undergo this procedure if nobody, absolutely nobody (including any and all family members), were to know what was going on. I knew this was unlikely, but I could always hope for the best, I mean after all (not to be cliche), it was more likely to find a needle in a haystack than for anyone to keep this secret.

After a year of tests Allan and I were ready to have the operation performed, but one of Allan’s doctors called and advised us the operation had to be put on hold because he had discovered Allan had another problem. This problem was serious enough to delay the desperately needed transplant because it dealt with an organ much more important – the heart.

The doctors proclaimed that Allan needed open heart surgery to clear three clogged arteries before a kidney transplant could be performed. It was obvious enough that the heart surgery would take precedence over the transplant because it would have been futile to give him my kidney if his body wasn’t healthy enough to reap the benefits. This news was devastating and left us totally speechless and in shock.

Allan’s surgery was a great success, but now my dear friend had to recover before the kidney transplant could be performed. Our hopes were high and we were both eager to pick up where we left off.

Finally the day arrived, I mean finally because I hate needles and the amount of blood that was extracted from my body, I was amazed I still had any blood flowing.

The lessons I learned, from this experience are rather incredible. The most important lesson is not to laugh after an operation. The pain is just not worth it, I mean I literally felt as though my sides were splitting and my Joan of Ark syndrome requested drugs immediately.

What I gave Allan was more than a kidney. It was an opportunity to celebrate more holidays, like Christmas, Kwanzaa, and as an added bonus, he can honestly say he is a New England Yankee – finally the perfect hybrid for Red Sox and Yankee fans alike. Even though it’s been five years since the surgery, the staff still pesters him about his new zest for life (not to mention his rather liberal celebration of any and all holidays).

My joy was that the old Allan was back, “just yelling and screaming”.

If you were kind enough to have stayed with me through this article: The purpose, yes, was to wish Allan a happy birthday, but this is a travel section.

Regardless of a person’s health and possible limitations, there are avenues that can be arranged so travel is possible. It just needs to be attended to with more detail and flexibility, along with a lot of open communication with all parties that are involved and concerned.

On my blog: I have posted several articles about Royal Caribbean International Cruise Lines. I would like to point out this particular cruise lines policy that may cover you depending on your treatment and overall health.

“Dialysis”:Guests requiring continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis are welcome to board all Royal Caribbean International® vessels. However, Royal Caribbean does not have the ability to assist or administer hemo-dialysis treatments. Those guests using peritoneal dialysis should have all solutions and equipment needed to perform the dialysis delivered to the vessel on the day of sailing at least two hours prior to sailing”

As an added note:
There are about 81,253 American waiting to receive a donor Kidney
There are about 16,815 Americans waiting to receive a donor Liver

I am NOT advocating that we all jump to make a decision to become a donor, for it is a major personal decision to make; yet I would like to raise awareness.

I would like to thank my partner Nick again and again for putting up with me all these years, and my surgeon Dr. Edyie from Mount Sinai Hospital, here in New York City, for being such an incredible artist. After only a year it’s impossible to tell…there are no traces, no scars.

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4 Responses

  1. […] Read the rest here: Happy Birthday Allan, I am thrilled to know your still traveling. […]

  2. Arthur,

    All I can say is you are an incredible human being – so full of fun and compassion – I am so pleased to know you. The world could use more of YOU.

    Keep on travelin’, Folks. Give Arthur a call when you are making those plans!!

    Mary
    from smokin’ Northern California

  3. What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it. Friendship like that is very special. You had a rare and golden opportunity to give a friend back his life and you chose to do it. Bravo!

  4. Absolutely amazing! Wonderful story!

    Now that you gave him his life back, I hope you got guaranteed lifelong employment with that company in return LOL

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