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12 years ago I joined the Wine Spectator forums. I thought I might find other enthusiasts who shared my passion for this hobby. My hope was that I could learn from other members of the board and be entertained.

I never thought that this board would be able to offer so much more. Over the years I've made many friends. Friends who I have not only shared wine but also dinners, parties and even weekend vacations. More than one board member has invited my wife and I to stay in their home. Frankly the hospitality and generosity so many board members have shown toward my wife and I has been inspiring.

Recently that spirit of generosity and selflessness has been take to another level. Last November, I was diagnosed with advanced kidney failure caused by an autoimmune disease. I was told that I would need a kidney transplant. My wife went to work right away. She went to all of my doctor appointments with me. She researched the best transplant hospitals. She made sure I changed my diet. Most importantly, she informed all of our family and friends of my condition. I really don't know what I would have done without her.

The response that we got from family and friends was humbling. Over 15 people offered to donate a kidney. Among those who offered to make that sacrifice were approximately 6 people who I met through the Wine Spectator forums. People who I would have never known had I not joined 12 years ago. Although it turned out that the best match for me was not a board member, their selfless acts should be recognized. This board is filled with some very special people.

My transplant surgery is scheduled for Friday morning. I'd like to thank Wine Spectator for providing this forum and all the board members who have shared wine, good times and friendship with my wife and I over the last 12 years.

One last emotional appeal. If you have ever considered being an organ donor, please do so. There are over 90,000 Americans on the waiting list for a kidney. The wait can be 7 years or longer in some parts of the country.

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I was moved by your story and work with a pediatric nephrologist. I am very familiar with renal transplantation.

I feel blessed to be one of the people who shared wine and food at your home with your extraordinary wife. I think she even covered me in beer at one offline. I am also the humble owner of one of your homemade wines with your spouses artistic label.

I wish you the best of luck my friend with your upcoming transplant and hope to see you up and about (and posting) shortly.

I cannot say that I've had people on these boards offer me any organs, but through these forums, I have made lifetime friendships with people I now consider family. When I joined these boards in 2003, my friends asked if I feared meeting face to face with psychopaths. Seriously, they did. My response now is that I've met the most sincere, generous, and friendly people imaginable. I, too, am grateful to WS for the opportunity to have "met" such a crowd.

Good luck VM and our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Last edited by doktap
I believe Vino Me was the first person on the board outside of Ohio that I "conversed" with in anticipation of joining the Chicago Mafia for an offline. While everyone that night was gracious and friendly, VM and his wife were right at the top of the list for making a wine novice welcome. Since then I've had a chance to offline with VM, Mrs. VM and the Chicago Mafia a few times, visited VM at his office before the holidays (seems like it is almost a tradition now) and even have a bottle of VM's homemade "wine" in my cellar. I echo VM's sentiments regarding the people on this board -- everyone I've met has been giving, warm and friendly.

My thoughts and prayers are with you VM. I look forward to uncorking more bottles with you and your better half often in the future.
Wow - it's pretty hard to think of an appropriate reply that would add to anything said previously. Kudos to you for sharing the story, your wife for taking charge and to all those who offered to help in the most personal way. There are certainly a lot of toasts coming your way, as well as good wishes including mine.

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