Kidney Donation and Saving a Life
We live in a world where there is a lot of talk about doing good, but in reality, most of us do not like anyone coming across as better than ourselves. Such people embarrass us and make us feel uncomfortable. Usually, we donate a kidney can just ignore those whom we perceive as super-saints, largely because we do not bump into such people very often; but if someone persists in calling for others to imitate what they have done (on the grounds that it was not heroic so much as an exciting adventure), then we have to de-value their actions, and to ridicule them as extreme, maybe even dangerous.
I have listed quite a few ways in which teaching on live unrelated organ donations can be silenced before it ever begins. Those who have heard and decided against donating plug up the communication channels for everyone else. They tell themselves that people who do donate altruistically are crazy or fanatics, and they try to convince themselves and others that there is some other ‘easy’ solution (e.g. signing donor cards or maybe even harvesting the organs of animals) Can you see how this ‘conspiracy’ has worked so effectively to stop people from hearing the facts?
Nevertheless, if there are enough people willing to take a stand against this attitude, then over time live undirected kidney donations will become almost as widely accepted as bone marrow donations are today. And when that happens, the same people who condemned us when we started pushing for more live non-directed kidney donations will praise those of us who pushed for such a change. It’s just the way society works.
So if you want to be part of the change, start checking into what is involved in donating a kidney. I recommend that you visit livingdonorsonline.com where you will find people (mostly live organ donors and people contemplating live organ donations) arguing both sides, but also sharing lots of practical information from their own experiences.
With so many people on transplant waiting lists and so few organs available, the fact that it is possible for a person to donate one of their two kidneys, or even a portion of their liver, to another person in need offers an incredible and life changing opportunity for both the recipient and the living donor.
Very often the opportunity to donate will arise when a family member or close friend suffers liver or kidney failure. Even in the case of an altruistic donation, (when someone donates to a stranger) the impulse to donate often comes from seeing a loved one suffer, or indeed recover when they receive a much-needed organ. However, perhaps more impressively, some altruistic donations are now inspired by a simple desire to give something back to the world.
Ten years ago the only option for kidney donation was open surgery, but in recent years more and more kidney donations are being carried out through keyhole surgery. This is designed to reduce the trauma and recovery time and so has opened up the option to donate for many more.
Yet however simple and straightforward the surgery may seem, it is still a highly unusual situation that presents difficult questions for donors, recipients and even medical staff, as it is essentially taking someone in good health and carrying out highly invasive, unnecessary surgery on them for the good of another. In fact it directly contravenes one of medicine’s most basic tenets “First do no harm.”