Snelling Law - February 2020

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February 2020

How Losing My Kidney Made Me a Better Lawyer

marry her …), but asking people to get tested in order to give me a kidney was the hardest ask I have ever made. Thankfully, I had a number of people from my family, community, and church and several of my friends step forward and get tested. My best friend, Jacob Thompson, was one of them. I met Jacob during my freshman year at Baylor University, and we became instant friends. After college, Jacob worked at an accounting firm before joining the Navy. Even while Jacob was deployed, we still kept in touch, and he knew about my kidney issues and future need for a transplant. For Jacob, there was never any hesitation about whether he would get tested. He just told me to let him know when the time came and he would be there. Before he was tested, Jacob and I used to joke that, of course, he would be my match — that is just the way it was supposed to work! Then, as the time for a kidney transplant grew near, we became more serious about it and began to pray that he would be my match. After all of the testing had been completed, our prayers were answered: Jacob was a nearly perfect match. When you need health care urgently (in my case to avoid having to go on dialysis), there is nothing convenient about it, and getting my kidney transplant was no exception. Our transplant surgery was scheduled for Oct. 31, 2017. (Having a surgery on Halloween was not creepy at all by the way … especially a transplant.) As stressful as undergoing a transplant surgery can be, I had an added layer. Snellings Law was just two months old. Clearly, all of the planning I had done in getting the firm up and running did not include me undergoing a transplant just two months after starting. Thankfully, I had an amazing paralegal, Gina, who was up to speed and able to hold the fort down while I was out. That was hard, but nothing compared to saying goodbye to my children the night before my operation.

“I’m sorry, Scott. There has been too much damage to your kidneys. You are going to need a transplant at some point in the future.”On the list of things you imagine may one day change your life, most of you would not think an organ transplant will be one of them. I know I certainly didn’t think so, not even on the day the doctor told me the news. In 2008, a different doctor diagnosed me with ulcerative colitis — nothing to do with kidneys. Unfortunately, the medications that doctor prescribed did affect my kidneys; in fact, the medications caused permanent damage to them. To add insult to injury, it turned out I never had ulcerative colitis in the first place. Over the next decade, my kidney function steadily declined, and I eventually reached the point where I needed the transplant. When you need a transplant, you get an organ in one of two ways. You can be placed on the organ donor list and wait for a phone call, which will hopefully come in time. The other option for certain transplants is to receive one from a live donor … but you have to ask. In my world, they call this “The Big Ask.” I have asked for many difficult things in my life (for my gorgeous wife to marry me, for her parents’ permission to

My wife and I drove down to stay near the hospital the night before the surgery. I will never forget leaving my house that night. Despite being an optimist, I knew that there was a chance I might never see my children again. If the unthinkable happened and I did not survive the transplant, I knew that my youngest two, at just 3 and 5 years old, were too young to keep their memories of me. I will be forever grateful to Jacob for donating his kidney to me. His wife, Carley, was eight months pregnant when he underwent donor surgery, so it really was the ultimate sacrifice. Our families have taken a trip every year since the transplant to celebrate, and we call it our “Kidneyversary” trip. By the time I had my kidney transplant, I had already been a lawyer for many years, but no amount of legal preparation and practice can teach you the lessons I learned throughout this experience — and continue to learn. We all understand pain and seek to avoid it. What we often discount are the emotional aspects of these situations, like the fear you

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