I guess every reporter in town knows Pam Silvestri.
For more than 15 years, she had been the tireless, reliable, always professional public-relations advocate for organ donation.
And now it becomes personal.
On Friday, Pam will donate a kidney to longtime friend and colleague Jennifer Cox.
Naturally, Pam tries to shift the focus from herself to Jennifer.
"Anyone who knows her would do the same," she said.
But it must be surreal to find yourself doing what you have spent years talking about. Right?
"The only thing that is a little scary is surgery. I've never had it before," Pam confessed. Then, nodding to Jennifer again, she added, "But I would do anything for her."
For her part, Jennifer said, "It still just blows me away."
Pam began her career in sports promotion. And because of that background, Mickey Mantle's family asked her to handle media relations when his liver transplant became a national story in 1995.
Sports was fun. But in organ donation, Pam found a true passion. "It was perfect timing – the universe doing its thing," she said.
She was soon hired to direct public relations for the Southwest Transplant Alliance and has been at it ever since.
One of the first people she met on the job was Jennifer, who received a kidney donation in 1995 from a deceased donor. Jennifer contacted the organ bank in hopes of meeting the man's family.
Pam helped arrange that. And the more the women talked, the more they bonded.
"It's like we met and we just meshed," Jennifer said.
"Every time I'm around her, I feel better about everything," Pam said.
Pam eventually put Jennifer to work promoting organ donation among minorities.
As best friends go, they're a bit of an odd couple. Jennifer is a settled wife and mother of 57. Pam is a single, youthful woman of 46. Jennifer is black. Pam is white. Jennifer is an Oklahoma farm girl. Pam is a New Yorker. Faith is a huge part of Jennifer's life. Not so much with Pam.
"I don't know that all our opinions agree, but they don't have to," Pam said. "We're very good at listening to each other."
"I knew that I could open up to her," Jennifer said. "A real friend is someone you can tell anything to."
When Pam learned last summer that Jennifer's transplanted kidney was failing, she immediately thought of donating one of her own.
Without saying anything to her friend, Pam had the screening done. And they matched.
Pam called Jennifer and began to deliver the news by saying she didn't want her to worry about finding a new kidney.
"I don't worry," Jennifer said. "God is going to take care of me."
"He is," Pam replied. "And he's going to use me."
Jennifer was speechless. "What do you say? I was just: 'Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness.' "
Typical of Pam, she is less interested in talking about her own donation than she is in promoting two new kidney-donation programs.
One is altruistic donation, allowing someone to donate with no specific recipient in mind.
The other is paired kidney exchange. Let's say your friend needs a kidney but you're not a match. The program pairs you with a suitable match and finds a match for your friend.
"The potential for those on waiting lists is so exciting," Pam said. "We're going to have a lot more transplants."
Me, I think I'd be obsessed with only one particular transplant at this point. Mine!
But that's what makes Pam the public-relations pro. And I know the sweetest thing I could say right now is:
For more information on organ donation, contact the Southwest Transplant Alliance at 214-522-0255.