The Gift of Golf and More

by Jeff Skinner

This game of golf touches people in many different ways.  In the June issue of Golf Magazine Max Adler’s column “How Golf Saved My Life” tells the story of Howard Fields.  Fields was an active athlete that said he had no time for golf.  Some friends had given him a gift certificate for golf lessons which he had no intention of using.  He was too busy.  He was born with one kidney and after his lone kidney started to fail he spent three days a week hooked up to a dialysis machine so he could live while waiting for a transplant.

He had three to five years of life left if he didn’t find a donor.  From the article, That winter a close colleague, Steve Tyler, took his family to Park City, Utah, for a ski vacation. On New Year’s Day, his son, Charles, a freshman at Cornell University and an expert skier, fell and hit his head on ice and died. When the family was asked about organ donation, Steve said, “You can have all the organs, if you ship one kidney to my friend Howard in New York.”

The transplant coordinator who called to notify me wasn’t supposed to tell me about the accident or who the donor was, but I guess she thought I already knew. The Tylers had wanted to wait until after the operation to tell me.

My first reaction was not to go through with it. I felt this indescribable guilt to have my salvation stem from this tragedy. But the nurse at my regular dialysis center convinced me that this was what the family wanted. Saving me would help them overcome their grief.

The transplant was a success, and that March I dug the gift certificate out of my drawer and took my first golf lesson. Wanting to take the best possible care of my new kidney, I didn’t think contact sports made sense. Right away I discovered the thrill of striping a good shot. It recharged my spirit.

With his new lease on life Fields decided to give golf a try and has become hooked like the rest of us.  Take a second to read this column and see the effect that one father’s decision had on the life of a friend.

Click here for Adler’s column.



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