My name is Maddy Bowles. I’m 18 years old and I have spent more than half of my life helping my mom fight for hers. More than 15 years ago, Anne Bulgermy mom needed a kidney transplant. My family went through a lot of heartbreak and disappointment as it was discovered that out of 14 family members and friends that got tested to give my mom a kidney, we were unfortunately not a compatible match. My mom, Martha, was on the donation list for years, not to mention all of the generous people who offered to be a living donor. But she had antibody rejection issues, so she went on dialysis and kept waiting. There were nights that my younger sister, Clare, and I didn’t know if we’d have my mom the next day. And there were some things I didn’t fully understand at the time, such as when my mom missed my eighth birthday because she was in the hospital.
Finally, my great aunt Anne Bulger, proved to be a match and the kidney transplant was a success. Now, each January, our family celebrates my mom and Anne’s health and the successful transplant; this year marked the 10th anniversary of the transplant!
This June, my sister Clare and I raised money for NJ Sharing Network (along with the help of many family and friends) in honor of my mom and Anne’s 10th anniversary, and our family participated in the 5K Walk/Race. I’ve been involved with NJ Sharing Network for years. Throughout high school, I worked to help the Donate Life cause, and my family also participated in the National Kidney Foundation Walk in NYC a few years ago. I even wrote my college essay on my mom’s gift of life, family hardships, and the power of NJ Sharing Network’s support.
Though my mom’s sickness was a trying time for my family, ultimately we became closer than ever. We’ve learned to never take our health for granted, and to cherish the time spent with loved ones.