Bambie Brown was feeling better than she ever had in her life on Nov. 22, which means she was feeling fantastically good.
Brown lives in a zone of vivacity and ebullience that leaves everyone around her in awe. But on that Tuesday Bambie was thrilled, because just the day before she had donated a kidney. Just for the joy of it.
'It's my lifelong dream come true,' Brown said. 'It was the best experience of my life.'
After the operation, Brown received a hero's reward. At Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center she was wearing a beautiful sweatshirt given to her by the kidney donor program coordinator and was lying back in bed 'watching bad TV.' She had sent her boyfriend out to buy cupcakes for the nurses of Good Samaritan because they are so incredible.
'They have to deal with catheters and soiled laundry all day, and they do it with a smile,' Brown said.
Meanwhile, Brown was sending emails and a friend was taking pictures of her scar.
If you are getting the idea that Bambie Brown is a very unusual person, you are right. It's not every day you run into someone who gives away a kidney with such gusto, particularly someone who gives a kidney to save the life of someone she doesn't even know. In fact, of the hundreds of kidney donations done in the history of Good Samaritan, previously only 11 people had given kidneys to someone who is not a family member or friend.
Bambie Brown is No. 12.
Brown got the inspiration for this noble act when she was just a teenager watching a bad TV show.
'There was a woman who had just won a lottery and they asked her what she wanted to do next. She said she wanted to donate a kidney,' said Brown, prior to the operation. 'I have wanted to do that myself ever since. I figured that now is the time.'
However, it was only after Brown moved from Louisiana to Oregon that everything fell in place. Besides starting a very happy life, including working as a receptionist at Oswego Veterinary Hospital, Brown made the connections with the medical people who could assist, and she was helped tremendously every step of the way by the staff at Good Samaritan.
Brown said, 'I sat down with a social worker, who made sure I was not being coerced. I met with the transfer surgeons, a nurse and a kidney donor. I had extensive testing. I was given every tool I needed.
'I've never felt so healthy, and I would know immediately if anything was wrong with me.'
It was not always smooth sailing. Brown's friends often told her, 'That's wonderful for you. I could never do it.'
Prior to surgery, her doctor told her, 'You know your days of wearing a bikini will be over.'
Brown said, 'I told him, 'I don't care. I'll be proud of my scar!''
Brown proceeded on her dauntless way, helped along by her 'tremendous friends and wonderful, loving boyfriend,' until just a week before her procedure. Then the magnitude of her action finally hit her.
'I had a bad anxiety attack on Tuesday (Nov. 15),' Brown said. 'I was really, really scared. But that feeling passed. By the day of the operation I was more excited than nervous.'
Now, Brown is back to being her old astounding self. She is already planning to make a swimsuit.
'I'm cutting a hole out of it so you can see my scar,' Brown said. 'Actually, it looks really good. The surgeon did a great job.'
More good news: Brown has already received word that the unknown person who received her kidney is doing very well.
There is just one downer in this whole saga. Under the terms of the kidney-donating procedure, Brown will never get to know the identity of the man or woman who got her kidney, unless, of course, that person chooses to contact her.
That would be nice, because knowing Bambie Brown would be a great pleasure.