By Roi Lee
My father had a cerebral hemorrhage in June 1999 when I was only 10 years old. Because of this, he is permanently paralyzed on the left side of his body. This incident has caused a lot of pain for my family, both mentally and physically. Ten years before he even had the hemorrhage, he also had diabetes, which weakened his blood circulation. This caused him to develop kidney disease. As the situation got worse, the doctor recommended that he apply for a kidney transplant in 2002. In March 2007, my father started hemodialysis three times a week, which made him tired and reluctant to do anything. In addition, he could not travel anywhere outside of the city, had to control everything he ate and was depressed. His illness made it difficult not only for himself, but for my mother too. Yet she was always there by his side, helping him fight through every obstacle. It made me sad to think that she had no life other than fighting this disease with my father. It was an incredibly dark time for my family.
Then, at 2 a.m. on November 4th, 2009, my mother received an unexpected phone call from the hospital. After seven years of waiting—and two years and eight months on hemodialysis—it seemed there was possibly a kidney available for my father. My family rushed to the hospital, went through the whole check-up process, and finally, finally, my father was given the green light for surgery. Six long hours later, my father had a new kidney at last. The gratitude my family feels toward the person who donated his kidney is unfathomable. In fact, the doctor told us that this person actually gave three people new lives: two kidney disease patients and one liver disease patient. My parents were so happy and grateful they volunteered to donate their organs after death.
It has been five years since my father had his kidney transplant. Life has been so much better for my father and for the family. He no longer needs treatment and can travel. However, my father still regrets that he could have avoided this struggle if he had managed his diabetes better from the beginning. He always tells me to have healthy food, manage stress and exercise. Even though my father is still struggling with his health issues related to diabetes and the hemorrhage, his defeat against kidney disease makes us all very happy and hopeful for the future.
My family’s story is part of the reason I co-founded with my partner, Angela Lee, Angela & Roi handbags. We are determined to give back and positively impact the community. We donate a portion of each handbag sale to various nonprofit organizations that support health issues, including, of course, the National Kidney Foundation.
Roi Lee is a cofounder of Angela & Roi handbags. Learn more about the company and their “Donate by Color” movement.