We all need to see stories like this, precisely because stories like this point very clearly and particularly to the better nature that we all share as human beings. Stories like this are living examples of what Abraham Lincoln called our “better angels.”
Comedians have often gotten laughs for telling “mother-in-law” jokes. The humor is rooted in the potential and natural tensions that can arise in such relationships. Though they often get a laugh, at the expense of the anonymous or imaginary mother-in-law, the reality is not so simple. That relationship, like any relationship, is based on mutual interests and concerns. In this case, it is a daughter, now the wife of someone from outside the family circle, and all involved have to find new ways to be ‘grafted’ onto the growing family tree.
As the old adage wisely states, “Amor vincit omnia;” Love conquers all. And this story is as much about love as it is service. It is a powerful statement about the true nature of love, that it is an active verb, that it is the act of going out of one’s self, in service to the other, that it is a willing giving of the self for the good of the other.
Lt. Col. Jason Elmore is a very fit and dedicated Air Force Reservist. He is currently serving in the U.S. Air Force Reserve as a victim advocate in the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program with the 301st Fighter Wing at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, TX. When his mother-in-law was diagnosed with kidney failure and needed a kidney to survive, the family went through the usual practices in organ donations. Family members of the person who needs the organ are the first to be tested as possible donors. Because they share blood, they are often the best resources for donations. Consistent with that, Elmore’s wife was the first to be tested as a potential donor, but she proved not to be a match. Then, her brother was tested. He, too, was not a match.
Potential donors must be in both good physical and good mental health to participate in such a dramatic and serious act. Because there were no matches in the family, the doctors had to go elsewhere to find potential donors. And as luck, or grace, would have it, Elmore was found to be a good match. As a result, he volunteered to be tested, saying, “I knew my choice to donate would save her life, and there was no question that this is what I was called to do.”
That kind of thinking has its origins in nothing less than love, love for his wife, for his wife’s family, and, in particular, for his wife’s mother. This kind of thinking represents nothing less than the highest form of love, a love that transcends the self.
Donating a kidney is not something to be taken lightly. It involves very invasive and serious surgery, which always carries the potential for serious risks and complications to the donor’s health, well-being, even life. On the other hand, it also carries the real potential of saving another’s life. It is the dilemma of dilemmas, isn’t it? The choice is between protecting the self or willingly taking the serious risks for the potential good of the other. To willingly choose the latter is, by definition, an act of love. It can be nothing less.
Elmore was in good physical and mental health. He played basketball regularly and did CrossFit training several times a week and played with his kids as often as he could. He agreed to donate a kidney to his mother-in-law and focused on the positive. The surgery went well, and he followed his doctor’s instructions post surgery to rest and not to be in a hurry to get back to his usual physical routines. He felt some serious post-surgery pain for a while, but after six weeks, he gradually started lifting weights and barbells. He waited until eight weeks after surgery to start doing pull-ups. He now says that he doesn’t “feel any different health-wise now, post surgery”. As a result of having only one kidney now, though, he must watch things like his caffeine and protein intake.
Since his recovery from the surgery, Lt. Col. Elmore has competed in the Kidney Donor Games, winning the 3-Rep Max Deadlift competition lifting 500 lbs. He has also competed in a Spartan Trifecta competition. His mother-in-law is doing very well, and the doctors say that they couldn’t have asked for better results.
Lt. Col. Jason Elmore is a model for all of us in his service to the nation and in his loving service to his wife’s mother in her need. We offer our respect and thanks to him for showing us what courage, service, and love in action looks like.Whizzco