THE FULL CIRCLE
Traci Aldridge is one of the most beautiful human beings I have ever known and this is her story.
Traci had her first kidney transplant 13 years ago. After the transplant she wanted to ‘give back’ so became a nurse whose specialty was post-op care for transplant patients. In that role she met Lynn Spradley who was battling for her life at University Hospital in Denver. Traci became very close to Lynn in the year that she was in hospital. Lynn almost died three times in that year and her surgeons gave her little hope of making it through her ordeal. Traci would sit with her three days a week giving her love, compassion and hope. With hope, came a miracle. Lynn not only lived but today enjoys a wonderful, healthy and happy life.
Not long after Lynn was released from the hospital, Traci found out that she would need another kidney transplant. Traci had her second transplant and made a full recovery.
In January of 2009, Traci had to have re-constructive knee surgery because of the medications that she needed to take to maintain her second kidney. This surgery which was extremely arduous, stimulated her immune system and she started to reject her kidney. Despite another difficult month of treatment she was told that she would require a third kidney transplant.
While undergoing evaluation and testing for the potential third transplant with her Doctor in October, he found a lump in her breast. Traci had breast cancer. Surgeons removed the cancerous breast followed by a reconstructive surgery. By this time the need for her third kidney became much more urgent.
In November this incredible lady came to our Invitational tournament at WHP, just to be a part of the event and relax for a few days. A tonic for her if you will. In all the years that I have known Traci, never once has she questioned why she has had to overcome so much in her life. Traci is always smiling and tells people that she is so grateful for the things that she does have rather than things that she doesn’t.
Traci is most surely an inspiration. Despite all of her adversity, she cares deeply for her fellow human beings. Traci’s goal is to become more and more actively involved with donation and transplant causes; and her burning wish is to help other people.
We had high hopes in December as there were two new potential donors. Both turned out to be bad matches and it was becoming more and more evident that she would soon need dialysis to support her. Traci was declining rapidly.
Still, never a “why me?”. Never a lament why she should have to overcome more in her life than most people would have to in several lifetimes. Traci celebrates the life that she has, with the abandon of an ecstatic child. Traci would tell you that she is so lucky that she has found the love of her life, Michael. How lucky she is to be surrounded by her three sisters (two of whom had been her earlier kidney donors) and her Mother and Father. By all of her friends; and there are a great many of those.
And never did she utter or think, one word of self pity. One of her favorite sayings is “you shouldn’t feel sorry for yourself, because you never know, the person sitting next to you, may be dealing with more than you can imagine.”
Traci loves Facebook and uses it to stay connected to hundreds of her friends around the world. In January of 2010, Lynn “found” Traci on Facebook. In doing so, she also found out about Traci’s plight and need for a kidney.
After her recovery 8 years earlier Lynn had met, fallen in love with and married Brett Macchietto.
Brett is a police officer in Colorado Springs. In February, Brett offered to become a donor for Traci. He has never met Traci. After the exhaustive tests to determine the quality of the match, it was decided that Brett could be her donor.
On April 20, 2010, Traci will get her new kidney at University Hospital in Denver.
On that same day, the world will have a real hero to admire. Brett Macchietto.
We idolize movie stars and professional athletes, and put them on pedestals that are undeserved.
You have probably never heard of Brett, but you have now. Brett is everything that can be good in the human spirit. An everyday person who the whole world should revere.
Believe in miracles, and know with absolute clarity that when you “pay it forward” as Traci has done for all of her 37 years, that this is indeed a life of wonder.