Today I’d like to write a letter to my friend Donald Prieto who
is about to receive a long- awaited kidney transplant.
Today I’d like to write a letter to my friend Donald Prieto who is about to receive a long- awaited kidney transplant.
I’ve know you since the third grade at Gilroy Christian School. You were taller than the other boys, I remember that. Other than that distinctive quality, I never thought you were different in any way. You were just a boy in my class, but then again you were always nice and polite, too. So there was something about you that stood out.
When we were in fourth grade I saw you faint in the classroom. It really scared me. The teacher seemed to know what was wrong and we all frantically started looking for candy to give you. The teacher found some lifesavers in her desk, and before long you were on your feet and off to the nurse. I didn’t know what happened to you, but I remember thinking that a lifesaver was named appropriately. Later on I learned that you were diabetic.
Other than that one day, I never saw anything like that happen to you again in school. We knew each other all through our school years, not as good friends but as “acquaintances”. There were never hard feelings between us, but always a pleasant “hello”. We did end up in a club together in high school. I think that was the next time I got to know you again and you were still “nice and polite”.
I got sick at school one day that same year. I fainted like you did so long ago, and a few days later my appendix ruptured just hours before surgery. I almost died. I had a serious infection and signs of gangrene. I remember wishing a lifesaver would help me to get back on my feet.
Years after we graduated I started hearing rumors about your health and I wondered why? Why are some people born with this kind of adversity? This question really hit home when my own daughter was born crippled. She had two surgeries at the ages of 12 and 14 months and then physical therapy to help her walk. Again, I remembered the lifesaver and wished it were so simple.
As adults we saw each other around town. At the Gilroy Bowl on karaoke night we became better acquainted and I admired your strength and the fact that whatever pain you might be in … never showed. I’ve seen you sick and I’ve seen you stand up and sing like the king (Elvis) himself when I think most people would have sat down and cried. I want you to know that I’ve always respected that inner strength you have, I always will. Speaking for myself, I can’t function when I have a head cold that lasts a week. And here you are, this incredible guy who keeps rocking up to his feet like a Weeble in spite of endless days of discomfort. Remember that jingle, “Weeble’s wobble but they don’t fall down”? That’s you Donald. You never show signs of being defeated.
We sat together at our 20-year high school reunion this past summer. I remember thinking about how much has happened in our lives through the years. I saw people who had not changed and had every opportunity. I saw people who had never suffered physically a day in their lives. I sat there next to you Donald, and I saw a man who still stood taller than the other boys. You are a shining star in this community. You are a person who I have never seen feel sorry for himself or ever utter a remark that might suggest it. I know you must have a job to do here. There is a purpose for your presence in this world.
I was thrilled when you told me you found a kidney donor and I’m elated that you’ve met this generous woman, Dottie, and that you’re getting another chance. You deserve it. She’s your lifesaver and I expect to see you back on your feet in no time, singing some Elvis tunes.
Please attend the benefit brunch held this Sunday, Dec. 3 at Victoria’s 11am to 4pm. This benefit will help the family out a lot and if you don’t know Donald and his family, this is a really good opportunity to meet some great people.
Lydia Eden-Irwin and her husband were both raised in Gilroy. They have three children
collectively. Reach herat [email protected]