My Father’s Final Gift

Twenty five days before my father died, on my birthday exactly six years ago, he gave me a present. He had the sparkle back in his eye—the one that had been reduced by pancreatic cancer to an ashen ember—when he gave it to me. It was a small package, rectangular in shape, in crisp brown-paper wrapping. Twine neatly wrapped around the corners, crisscrossing back and forth arriving at a bow crafted by the sure hands of a man who built his first model airplane at age seven.

This small brown package will be the final gift my father ever gives me.

My family does gifts strangely. For instance, we have our own mangled interpretation of hanukkah, where each person of the family has a night to give out presents. If we have five people home for hanukkah, we celebrate only five of the eight nights. The joy of gifts are in the giving, not receiving, so before opening your present you must first guess what’s inside. This tradition is “plenty questions”, a more forgiving version than the standard twenty questions.

“Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral?”, I ask.

We are in it for the game of teasing the gift out of the gifter. It’s like extracting [...] continue the story

My Kidney, His Life

In April of 2008, I donated my left kidney to a perfect stranger so that my dad could receive a kidney from yet another stranger. Four donors gave to four people they had never met before in the largest kidney exchange to date in the Midwest. All did it to save their loved ones. This short documentary is a personal story about the fears, concerns and joys experienced throughout the donation process. It’s about having the opportunity to save my father’s life yet having to risk my own to do it. What if something happened to me in surgery? How would my absence affect my eight year-old son? How could I refuse the opportunity to help my father? Viewers are often exposed to the technical aspects of organ donation but rarely experience the added intimate human side. This story takes exposes the mental and emotional journey I went through as a live donor.

Authored by Pierre Kattar & Alexandra Garcia.

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