December 23, 2022


May 29, 2023

On my first trip to the Modern Elder Academy in Baja, in March 2019, I did what has become a custom: a session with Saul. As we stood on the cliff at sunrise overlooking the ocean, he held my hands. I was on the verge of kidney failure, and he felt my fear.

As the horizon stretched in a harsh then soft progression from dark to light, it told me a story:

A distinct ending. And a start…to the most vibrant and successful time of my life.

Three years before, when I turned sixty, my doctor said:

“If you want to do anything spontaneous or adventurous, do it right away. Your kidney could fail at any time.”

I traveled solo to Israel, Australia, Asia, Bali, Europe and Costa Rica. Upon returning 11 months later, I became consumed with avoiding dialysis and beating my kidney disease.

In front of me were seemingly insurmountable complex, time-consuming obstacles. I thought I might never find my way through. But I was DETERMINED.

I searched for deceased donor kidneys.

The wait time in California for a kidney averages 8+ years.

I researched, visited and was tested at highly-ranked centers with shorter wait times.

It was exhausting.. But I did it!

I had to figure out how to cover the 20% my Medicare A and B insurance didn’t, and other expenses.

A friend coached me on fundraising. I raised almost $18,000 through my campaign for Help Hope Live, and $5,000 on Facebook.

It took six months to find the state program that caps out of pocket expenses.

It was daunting. But I did it!

I sought experimental procedures.

I discovered pig kidney clinical trials.

At the Frick Museum in New York, I saw an artificial kidney, like a translucent origami. UCSF was one of two research centers applying for grants. I asked my doctor to put me on their list. She did.

I didn’t know if they’d happen soon enough for me.

I found a Living Donor.

The National Kidney Foundation advises it takes seven outreach tries…if you’re lucky.

I wrote an email and blasted it everywhere. On my first try, a UCLA Anderson alum 15 years behind me called: he’d begun testing.

Navigating the siloed medical system was more difficult because of COVID shutdowns. I advocated solutions the staff often didn’t know about.

I overcame my hesitancy. But I did it!

I traveled despite a challenged immune system and anemia.

I went to South America with a friend in April 2019, then Florida, Spain, Portugal, and London in December, where I contracted early COVID. I wound up in urgent care four times in one year.

It didn’t stop me. I did it!

I stayed as healthy as I could.

I got creative with recipes for my heavily-restricted diet. I couldn’t eat salt, most green leafy vegetables and fruits nor grains, and only limited portions of dairy.

I managed my stress, stamina and emotional roller coaster with exercise, deep breathing, meditation, and the support of my friends and medical team.

I didn’t know if I could stave off failure,


I had a successful transplant!!

Within 24 hours in the paired donor exchange, I matched with a kidney from a 30 year old woman.

My world-renowned surgeon operated on Thursday, February 25, 2021.

On Sunday when I left the hospital, my function had gone from 11% to normal. It was extraordinary!

This past July, Saul and I drove up the same narrow dusty road to the jagged cliffs as the sun was beginning to set.

The sun looked like the top half of a bright yellow egg, sitting on a vast ocean, as if bidding me farewell.

This time, as Saul held my hands, he felt strong, abundant, positive energy.

We nodded goodbye to old Anita. We turned and made affirmations to the huge fiery-red Super Moon.

He looked me in the eyes and said “If you can manifest a kidney from a 30 year old, you can manifest anything.”

“Plant the seeds, take action and choose.”

Saul christened me “Renovated Anita”.

I learned lessons that will benefit me the rest of my life.

  • When faced with challenges in the past, I surmounted them. And can again.
  • Achieving the impossible IS possible. Persist, be resourceful, be present. Trust, believe, act.
  • Don’t be deterred. Be empowered. Advocate.
  • Uncertainty is unsettling. Focus on what you CAN do.
  • Create space. Feel your emotions. Let stuff go. Unencumbered produces much better results.
  • Awareness, self-care, and managing your energy and nervous system are critical.
  • Social connection and support matters. A lot.

Now, my third act is unfolding, with new possibilities.

It’s going to be a great ride.

Anita Baker is a business development professional, strategist, and design systems thinker. She is a writer, interviewer, moderator, and facilitator of conversations and collaborations that uncover new perspectives and opportunities for growth initiatives, new products and services, and approaches to complex problems (such as sustainability). She created an online service for women aged 50+ traveling solo based on her extensive travels. Anita is co-lead of the active North Bay Alumni chapter.

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