Kidney for a Stranger

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Here’s a gripping piece by my former colleague Mike Riggs on his decision to donate a kidney to a complete stranger.

Add it to your long reads file.

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4 Responses to “Kidney for a Stranger”

  1. #1 |  Eric | 

    That was a great read. My dad donated a kidney almost 10 years ago to a woman who was a family friend. My family had known them for many years but it wasn’t like they were particularly close to us. I didn’t know their kids, wouldn’t have recognized the husband if I’d seen him, and really knew very little about them other than that my mom worked with the donee and my parents went to parties over at their house once or twice a year.

    My dad committed early to the idea – it was his offer, not any request from the family – and never wavered. I had a lot of the same thoughts that Mike’s family and girlfriend did. While most people just thought it was a cool thing for him to be doing, when I really got to thinking about it I struggled to understand why he was so eager to put himself through a process that would be so long and invasive – literally, they cut a part of his body out – to help someone who was tangentially involved in our lives at best. I still can’t fully comprehend it, but for my dad I think it really was just a simple matter of saving someone else’s life. How often can you have that experience?

    Looking back, especially after my dad has healed without any complication and 10 quality years have been added to the woman’s life, I feel very proud that he did that. But ultimately, I wonder whether the anomalies of stranger donations end up hurting the overall transplant effort. Stories like Mike’s or like my dad’s, which got a little writeup in the community paper, reinforce the idea that there are people out there who will go through this crazy process to help a stranger. And there are, but not many. The truth is that if we really wanted to increase transplants and reduce the number of people who are dying on a waiting list, some modest compensation would help an awful lot.

  2. #2 |  Kevin | 

    Great article. I think what we actually need are organ markets, though. Unfortunately, the average median voter considers that grooooossss and therefore prefers not to think about it.

  3. #3 |  Robert | 

    27 years after giving one of my kidneys to my sister, I’ve had no complications. I’m sure that the process has gotten even better since then. Worst part of the whole thing is when the nurse took the catheter out. Yee gods I still feel that to this day…

  4. #4 |  (B)oscoH | 

    To think how many lives would be saved if we weren’t so officially prudish about this. I hope that in my lifetime, technology comes along and saves us from this conundrum, because reasonable thought most certainly will not.