Boulder, Colo.–It started out as a very big favor to an old, and very dear, friend.
Boulder, Colorado resident Kate Lacroix, 43, recently was looking to reconnect with her college friend Masa Holle and went to the first place people generally do today when looking to track down old friends–Facebook.
The first thing she found there wasn’t a personal page but a support page called “A Kidney for Masa.”
Via the social media site, Lacroix found out that Holle, whom she hadn’t seen in seven years, was experiencing kidney failure and in need of a donor. So she stepped forward and offered to donate one of hers.
While that might seem like an outsized offer for a friend, Lacroix explained that Holle was more than just a friend–she was a licensed therapist who helped her cope after an attack in college left her traumatized. Because of this she “absolutely” did not hesitant to volunteer as a donor.
Lacroix quickly found out through a simple blood test that she was not a match for Holle, but that there is a program called the paired exchange that would allow her to donate a kidney to someone with whom she is a match.
And while this might seem like a really outsized offer for someone you don’t know at all, it wasn’t a difficult decision for Lacroix. She has a kind spirit, and giving comes naturally to her.
She saw getting involved in organ donation as, for lack of a better term, her “thing,” her way of contributing in a culture where everybody excels.
“Everybody in Boulder does something–they climb 14’ers (14,000-foot mountains) or they do Ironmans. But I’ve never really found, like, a ‘thing,’” Lacroix says. “I’m just a generalist. But, for some reason, organ donation seemed like the easiest thing in the world.”
Before they put her under for surgery to remove her kidney, Lacroix said a thought popped into her head: she would need a medic alert bracelet now.
By the time she woke up, she had determined that the piece needed to be fine jewelry, the most chic-looking medic alert bracelet she could get, and turned to the man who did her wedding ring to create it–Boulder-based jewelry designer Todd Reed.
She and Reed sat down at a coffee shop. She talked. He listened and sketched.
The result was signature Reed–a blackened silver cuff with five pentagon-shaped raw emeralds (Lacroix is a May baby) in sterling silver frames plus one frame filled in with gold, a nod to the ancient Japanese art of Kintsukuroi. (Kintsukuroi is the method of repairing broken pottery using a lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum.)
Lacroix said she has always loved the idea behind this ancient art form–that things can become more valuable when they are broken, more beautiful when they are used–and thought it a fitting addition to her bracelet.
On the bottom of the cuff, there’s a symbol that lets medics or rescue workers know that she has a medical condition. On the inside of the cuff, the words “kidney donor” will be engraved.
Lacroix said when she chose to donate a kidney, she made the choice not to get to know the person who received it, but has ended up finding out some information anyway. Her organ went to someone in Ohio who had been waiting eight years for a match.
Since then, she’s signed up to donate a piece of her liver to a child in need via a pioneering program underway at the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora.
And her friend Holle ended up finding a match as well.
“It’s so beautiful to me,” she said, tearing up. “It warms my heart. I cannot express the existential process.
“It’s given me such confidence to say, ‘If (I never do) anything else in my life, I am good for life (because of this offering).”