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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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How one woman's selfless kidney donation made her a hero, 7 times over.

They took out Stacey Donovan’s kidney and put it into something that looked like a beer cooler.

An organ transplant cooler in Germany. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

The container appeared better suited for a picnic than an operating room. But in a short time, that cooler — and Donovan’s kidney — would be flying over 1,500 miles to San Diego to meet its new owner.


Her donation would also set off an amazing chain reaction that would change not just one life, but seven.

It all started in 2013 in Prairie Village, Kansas, where Donovan lives with her husband and three rescue dogs.

While reading a science magazine, Donovan came across an article about the immense need for kidney donations. Estimates indicate that 600,000 Americans suffer from kidney failure, a serious and potentially fatal condition. Dialysis is the solution for many, but it can be exhausting. The typical procedure takes four hours at a time, has to be done three times a week, and can cause cramps, headaches, and vomiting.

A close-up of an artificial kidney machine. Image from iStock.

A kidney transplant is usually the only way for patients to be free from dialysis, but kidneys are in short supply. The waiting list is almost 100,000 people long, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Many people end up waiting for years.

“It just sounded like such a difficult, hard-to-keep-your-hope-up kind of existence,” said Donovan.

Donovan decided to do something most people have probably never considered. She was going to donate a kidney.

A live kidney donation surgery in Birmingham, England. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

“It wasn’t a difficult choice. I’ve taken more time deliberating whether to grow out my bangs,” she’d later write for XOJane.

But her family, especially her husband, wasn’t so keen on the idea. The surgery itself is pretty safe, but all surgeries come with risks. Plus it’d mean Donovan, with only one kidney, would be taking on a new pre-existing condition.

“The one thing that was reassuring for him, and kind of helped me win the debate, was the Affordable Care Act,” said Donovan. The law's pre-existing condition clause would protect her from rate hikes or denial if she ever needed to buy insurance again in the future.

Family convinced, Donovan contacted the National Kidney Registry, an organization that plays matchmaker for organ donors. For the next four or five months, Donovan went through a battery of checkups, stress tests, and urine analyses to make sure she was healthy enough to donate. She also had to send vials of blood for organ compatibility tests. She said that after enough vials, it became easy to imagine the National Kidney Registry as the front for some very sophisticated vampires.

Eventually they found a match — a man in San Diego.

Donovan had never met the man who would get her kidney. She didn’t even know his name.

Donovan and her husband drove to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis for the surgery. After she woke up, a nurse told her, “Welp, nobody can ever say you never did anything nice for anyone.”

Donovan the day after the surgery. Photo from Stacey Donovan, used with permission.

But Donovan’s kidney was only the start of this story.

Because of Donovan, the San Diego man’s wife decided to pay the good deed forward and donated her own kidney to another unrelated recipient. And that in turn set off another donation. And another. And another. In total, Donovan’s initial donation ended up getting seven different people new kidneys.

It was a lifesaving effort carefully planned by the National Kidney Registry.

When a person needs a kidney, friends and family often try to donate but many find out they’re not compatible. In the past, this would be the end of the story, but starting in the late-1980s, doctors and hospitals realized they could simply swap who gets which kidney. Sometimes, these were simple exchanges, but sometimes a single altruistic donor can set off a chain reaction — a donor like Donovan.

Today, Donovan's back to her old life, though now she's worried others might not be able to follow in her footsteps.

Donovan says lately she’s been worried about what will happen if the Affordable Care Act's pre-existing condition clause is changed or repealed. The safety ensured by that law played a big part in convincing her family that she should donate.

“My main concern with that is what it'll do with the number of donors,” said Donovan.

What'll ultimately happen to the health care law is still unclear. The latest attempt to repeal and replace tries to keep the pre-existing condition clause, but introduces a loophole that’d allow insurers to charge more if a patient has gaps in their coverage record. And it's not clear if this bill will pass Congress.

Troy Zimmerman, vice president of the National Kidney Foundation, said he thinks the doubt around the Affordable Care Act could certainly affect the number of living donors.

Donovan still hasn’t met the man who got her kidney, but she has been able to get a glimpse of what it meant to him and his family.

About a week after the surgery, Donovan ended up getting a special package in the mail.

“I got all these handwritten letters from his family members,” said Donovan. It turned out the man wasn't just somebody's husband — he was a father and grandfather. In the letters, grandkids explained how the man could now go to the beach with them again. He could see them graduate.

The man's wife wrote as well. In her letter, she described life before the donation. It read, "...He's in the back room all the time in pain." But thanks to Donovan's generosity, she said, that pain could fade away.

And after his transplant, it did.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night.


Van Gogh never got to enjoy his own historic success as an artist (even though we've been able to imagine what that moment might have looked like). But it turns out that those of us who have appreciated his work have been missing out on some critical details for more than 100 years.

I'm not easily impressed, OK?

I know Van Gogh was a genius. If the point of this were "Van Gogh was a mad genius," I would not be sharing this with you.

But I found this and I thought, "Oh, what a vaguely interesting thing." And then I got to the part about the Hubble Space Telescope, and, let me tell you: Mind. Blown.

We've got the set up here, but you have to watch the video for the full effect. It's all the way at the bottom.

Get this: Van Gogh was a pretty cool artist (duh), but as it turns out...

painting, science, psychotic

What’s the truth behind when you take off an ear?

assets.rebelmouse.io

...he was also A SCIENTIST!*

*Pretty much.

Here's the story.

While Van Gogh was in an asylum in France, after he mutilated his ear during a psychotic episode*...

(*Or, and I'd like to thank the entire Internet for pointing this out, there's a theory that his friend Paul Gauguin actually cut off his ear, in a drunken sword fight, in the dark. The more you know!)

science, premonition, predictions

Animated a thinking one-eared Van Gogh.

All Van Gogh GIFs via TED-Ed.

...he was able to capture one of science's most elusive concepts:

~~~TURBULENCE~~~

research, studied, proof, genius

Animated "Starry Night."

assets.rebelmouse.io

turbulence, fluid dynamics, energy cascade

Turbulence expressed through art.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Although it's hard to understand with math (like, REALLY HARD), it turns out that art makes it easy to depict how it LOOKS.

So what is turbulence?

Turbulence, or turbulent flow, is a concept of fluid dynamics where fluid movements are "self-similar" when there's an energy cascade — so basically, big eddies make smaller eddies, and those make even smaller ones ... and so on and so forth.

It looks like this:

figures, explanation, education, community

Pictures explain science.

assets.rebelmouse.io

See? It's easier to look at pictures to understand it.

Thing is, scientists are pretty much *just* starting to figure this stuff out.

reference, research, wisdom

Animation of referencing art to science.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Then you've got Van Gogh, 100 years earlier, in his asylum, with a mutilated ear, who totally nailed it!

illumination, luminance, pulsing

Science studying Van Gogh.

assets.rebelmouse.io

The folks who noticed Van Gogh's ability to capture turbulence checked to see whether other artists did the same. Most impressionists achieved " luminance" with their art (which is the sort-of *pulsing* you see when you look at their paintings that really shows what light looks like).

But did other artists depict turbulence the way Van Gogh did?

NOPE.

The Scream, historical, popular, famous

Animated “The Scream."

assets.rebelmouse.io

Not even "The Scream" could hold a candle to Van Gogh!

technology, star turbulence, sky, astronomy

Capturing concepts of nature.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Even in his darkest time, Van Gogh was able to capture — eerily accurately — one of nature's most complex and confusing concepts ... 100 years before scientists had the technology to observe actual star turbulence and realize its similarity to fluid turbulence mathematics as well as Van Gogh's swirling sky. Cool, huh?

Watch the video below to learn even more:

This article originally appeared on 11.14.14

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

@abcnews/TikTok

Cats are stars, onstage and off.

Oh, what it must be like to be a cat. To never suffer from imposter syndrome, to take on foes at least twice your size without hesitation, to navigate the world like you’re on every VIP list in existence. What a glorious life, indeed.

Take this concert-crashing kitty, for example. During a live orchestra performance at the 52nd annual Istanbul Music Festival, a curious feline wandered up on stage without a care in the world—and of course it was all anybody could talk about.

In a clip shared to multiple social media platforms by several news outlets, including @abcnews on TikTok, we see the gray and white cat traipse onto the stage, as if drawn in by the whimsical tune being played.

Then, it literally catwalks across the stage, unbothered from beginning to end.

Watch:

@abcnews A curious cat wandered onto stage during a live orchestra performance at the 52nd Istanbul Music Festival. #turkey🇹🇷 #orchestra #catsoftiktok ♬ original sound - ABC News

Of course, as many viewers pointed out, this is an all-too-common sight in Istanbul, which, like many Muslim countries, holds a special place in its heart for felines. According to Catster, cats don’t have owners. Instead, they are taken care of by the entire community all around the city—from tea houses to ferries to public transport and beyond.

Istanbul even funds veterinary care for its stray cats, including spaying and neutering, emergency care, and a mobile Vetbus. It’s pretty much Kitty Heaven over there.

Besides commending Istanbul for its feline-friendly atmosphere, people also shared their delight for the cat who “stole the show.”

“He KNEW this was about him. HIS moment! Lol,” one person wrote.

Another added, “that’s his background music, and he’s off on a big adventure.”

Another tapped into the cat’s POV, writing, “how lovely, the humans are playing me a song.”

Some even offered their best cats puns.

“I think it was trying to find the ‘purr-cussion’ section,”one person quipped.

Another said, “That is an ARISTOCAT.”

Istanbul might go above and beyond for its cats, but the respect we have for feline audacity is strong just about everywhere in the world.

@variety/TikTok

The way Brunson comforted Aniston speaks volumes.


For those not familiar with Variety's “Actors on Actors,” it’s a live interview series where two actors discuss various aspects of their craft and career. Often, actors will be paired together because of a common thread. Margot Robbie and Cillian Murphy during the height of Barbenheimer, for example. Or Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt—both from “The Devil Wears Prada.”

So it’s no surprise that two comedy queens, Jennifer Aniston and Quinta Brunson, would be paired together for the latest “Actors on Actors” segment. What people are astounded by, however, is the way Brunson handled a very serious moment.

At one point during the conversation, a producer off camera suggested that Brunson ask Aniston “what it’s like to watch ‘Friends’ now.”

This clearly struck a chord with Aniston, who, already tearing up, said “don’t make me cry.”

Noticing this Brunson said in a soft voice, “You’re already crying. Do you want a minute?,” before assuring her “We don’t have to talk about [this].”

@varietymagazine Jennifer Aniston gets emotional when asked about "Friends." #ActorsOnActors ♬ original sound - Variety

Tilting her head up to not let the tears fall, Aniston replied “No, no, sorry, I just started thinking about...” before Brunson quickly said “I know. Yeah.”

It’s evident that Aniston’s emotional reaction is triggered by the loss of her former “Friends” cast mate Matthew Perry, who died October 28, 2023. The pair’s friendship remained strong even after the show ended in 2004—Perry even revealed that Aniston was the member of their group who reached out to him “the most” during his sobriety journey.

All this to say, Aniston was understandably triggered by the question. Brunson saw that, and acted accordingly. She once again offered “we don’t have to talk about it,” waited while Aniston grabbed a tissue to compose herself, then masterfully guided the conversation to a joke.

“So, Jen, ‘Friends’ is turning 30…and you are turning 30…When you were a baby on that show, you were so advanced…your fine motor skills were insane”

Viewers applauded the “Abbott Elementary” star for “taking care” of Aniston’s emotional wellbeing.

”Quinta gets props for saying to Jennifer, ‘We don’t have to go there if you don’t want to.’ I get why the producers were trying to create that buzzworthy moment, but I also appreciate Quinta’s willingness to derail it for Jennifer’s sake,” one person wrote on Youtube

“Quinta’s little ‘I know’ — it was so simple but so kind and empathetic,” added another.

Over on TikTok, comments were just as complimentary.

“Quinta handled this masterfully,” wrote one person.

Another echoed, “How Quinta handled that- that’s why she’s where she’s at.”

Seeing people take care of one another never gets old.

You can watch the full conversation between Brunson and Aniston below:


Identity

Comedian Tig Notaro's 7-year-old son had a beautiful reaction to learning his moms are gay

“I was so stunned because we’ve lived together almost eight years, and I’ve been gay the whole time — even prior!”

Comedian Tig Notaro on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

June is LGBTQ Pride Month, a time for celebration for those in the community and their allies. People celebrate the occasion with pride parades, fly the pride flag, and commemorate special events in the gay rights movement, such as the Stonewall Uprising. But so far this month, for comedian Tig Notaro, things have been “a little weird.”

She explained the funny situation she and her wife, actor Stephanie Allynne, recently dealt with on the June 6 episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

Pride month, I’ll be honest, it’s been a little weird. My wife and I found out recently that our sons didn’t know we were gay. They will be 8 this month,” Notaro told Colbert. "Their school is six minutes away from our house, and at minute three we were in the front seat of the car talking about something about gay. Our son Finn leans forward and says, ‘You’re gay?’”


“I was so stunned because we’ve lived together almost eight years, and I’ve been gay the whole time — even prior!” Notaro joked. “So, I was like, ‘Yes! We are.’ I was so shocked.”

@colbertlateshow

#TigNotaro’s sons didn’t realize their moms were gay, but they jumped on board quickly! #Colbert

The couple felt they had to address the big revelation before the kids got to school, but they didn’t have much time. “We’re like three minutes now from the school, and I start explaining what gay is,” she continued. As she explained what it meant to be gay, she felt a little awkward coming out to her sons.

"And then while I was explaining it, I started getting insecure, thinking, 'What if he doesn’t like this?'” she worried. “So, she asked her sons to share their feelings on the sensitive issue. “What do you think about what I just told you?” Notaro asked them.

Her son Finn gave the most beautiful response.

“Oh, I love my family,” he said.

The couple were shocked that their kids had no idea what gay meant, even though their mothers were lesbians. “We drop them off at school and we’re like, ‘bye!’ and we truly drove off going like half-a-mile-an-hour, like ‘How on earth do our kids not know we’re gay?’ Because, dare I say, we’re also an iconic gay couple,” Notaro joked.

Allynne and Notaro have been married for over eight and a half years, tying the knot on October 24, 2015, in Notaro’s hometown of Pass Christian, Mississippi. It wasn’t long after that they became parents. On June 26, 2016, their sons, Max and Finn, were born by surrogate.

When the couple first met, it was challenging for Allyne, who wasn’t sure how to label her sexuality. "Everything about her felt right," she told People. "I knew I liked her, I knew I cared about her and that sent me into an identity crisis spiral. I felt the need to label myself. Was I gay? Was I bi? Was I still straight? Was I ever straight?"

"It took me six months to realize those labels were ridiculous. Once I was able to own my true feelings it was all easy and beautiful. I now don’t believe in the labels,” she continued.

Now, things have come full circle and the couple are explaining to their kids what it means to be gay. “I realized that even though there’s pictures of our wedding day and they know they have two moms, that doesn’t mean they know what gay is,” Notaro told Colbert.

The male employees of PrimaDonna try on their "breasts."

Let's face it, it's a lot easier to be a man than a woman. Although men die four years earlier than women, they get to live without the extra burdens of menstrual cramps, lower pay, the pain of childbirth, or the feeling of having a bra strap digging into their backs.

But now, the CEO of a bra company is letting men experience what it's like to have large breasts so they can understand what women go through every day.


One day a year, PrimaDonna CEO Ignace Van Doorselaere makes his male employees wear simulated E-cup-sized breasts for an entire work day. "There is only one way for a man to realize what an E-cup feels like, and that is having an E-cup," Van Doorselaere says.

In order to simulate the feeling of carrying around E-cup-sized breasts, the men wear weights hung around their necks. "Let's be honest, an E-Cup can weigh up to 1 or 1.5 kilograms (2.2 to 3.5 lbs) per breast," Van Doorselaere says. "This is a lot. It hurts your neck. It hurts your back. Imagine you are that woman. Carry those breasts for an entire day. That's why you need good support. Good support is important. Everybody at PrimaDonna knows that now."

This article originally appeared on 10.30.17