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Posted June 2010

Powerful and Intentional Writing
Can Save Lives!

Barbara McNichol

A year ago, a professional speaker and consultant hired me to edit articles and website copy—not an unusual request—but the events that have unfolded since form the makings of a heartfelt movie with suspense and hope, drama and victory.

Risa Simon decided to convey this urgent message to humankind: that 85,000 people in the U.S. waiting for kidney transplants can be helped with kidneys from living donors. Yet who’s likely to step forward and donate a kidney to a stranger? It’s a tough sell.

For Risa, the question was how to communicate the issues surrounding kidney donation in a way that persuades people to shift attitudes and take action. Vital elements must be abundantly present in the writing, including eloquence, heart, logic, and a sense of urgency. Last fall, she founded Kidney Kinships, created, and launched a public awareness campaign based on the slogan You Don’t Have To Be Dead To Donate!™. Doing all this had an immediate boomerang effect for Risa. She wrote: “Through creating this outreach, I’ve experienced a most profound and surprising personal shift. I saw myself slowly transitioning from a life filled with anxiety and fear to a tranquil expression of gratitude.”

Yet with all this in place, Risa still had to dig deeper. She felt an urgency not only for others needing a transplant but she, herself, was losing her battle to Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), an inherited condition. I was privileged to edit her heartbreaking stories about five people who had stepped forward in 2009 to be her living donor—only to hear from the doctors “Not a suitable donor.”

Then in April, Risa sent me two pieces to edit that blew my socks off! As her own renal function continued to decline, she “replayed the tapes” on her efforts to attract the right donor. “I discovered an omission of consciousness on my behalf. While I had been open to receiving donor offers, I had not done enough to attract the ideal outcome,” she noted.

From that realization, she decided to articulate—in writing—all the threads attached to her divine donor situation in one statement of intention. “I affirmed my ideal donor would be revealed in April 2010. I clarified that, this time, this person would be approved by the Mayo selection committee, and that both donor and recipient would be in ideal health to undergo the transplant procedure. I also described just how successful our surgeries would be. I spoke of expedited donor healing, the ease of recovery, and the impact this procedure would have on a world that Lives 2 Give™.”

Risa crafted her bold, specific statement with the ultimate in clarity, love—and power.

Results came to her quickly. Within 10 days she received an offer for a donated kidney from a very special person named Melissa. Thirty days after that, Mayo approved Melissa to donate a kidney to Risa. “This transplant event will take place on June 8th. The surgery will involve the removal of my two native kidneys (which I’ll be donating to a dedicated research lab to help find a cure for PKD), along with my adoption of MAK (otherwise known as Melissa’s Amazing Kidney).”

So many nuances to Risa’s journey can’t possibly be told in this summary. Just know that the generosity of spirit she has brought to this effort will reverberate well out into humankind.

And she has convinced me—without a doubt—that powerful, intentional writing can save lives!

P.S. Please go to to learn more about living organ donations and how to write an Intention Statement, explained in Step 6 under Best Way to Ask.

Copyright © 2010 Barbara McNichol
All Rights Reserved

Barbara McNichol writes and edits articles, nonfiction books, and book proposals for authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She's the creator of Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Choosing the Perfect Word when It Really Matters (

She also produces Add Power to Your Pen, a valuable ezine for tips on improving writing. For more information, go to or her blog


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