Adventures of a Kidney Donor

October 9, 2010

What’s With These Crazy Kidney Donors?

A lot of people think I am crazy to give up a kidney, especially to a stranger. They can almost see if it was going to a relative or friend, but a stranger? No way. I am occasionally getting backhanded comments from friends and acquaintances who don’t think this is a good idea.  This inexplicably hurts my feelings and I want to say: NOT HELPFUL PEOPLE.

It’s interesting to read what donors have to say about their motivation and reactions from others.

From Why I Chose to Give Up My Kidney to a Total Stranger.” Europe Intelligence Wire 16 July 2010. General OneFile. Web. 9 Oct. 2010. **:

“It was a complete lightbulb moment…It was my own little way of making a difference to somebody…I haven’t the knees to be a marathon runner or the money to be altruistic, but this was something I could do.”

From a really nice article by Virginia Postrel Here’s Looking at You, Kidney. She  gave a kidney to a friend:

… there was something reassuring about the idea that the benefit wouldn’t depend at all on my talents, persuasiveness, or intellect. It would be simple. All I had to do was show up. In middle age, I’ve realized that I can’t save the world. But maybe I could save Sally. Someone had to.

People Magazine featured kidney donation chain heroes on November 30 2009. (See picture at top.) When donor Matt’s family was worried he said:

“I want to do something the kids can look at and remember me by… I want to leave a legacy.”

Matt’s donation set off what has become the nation’s first and longest-running open-ended kidney-transplant chain.

The Kidney Chronicles is a great blog by Tom Simon, a kidney donor. He encountered a lot of the same objections I hear from people and he has a nice way of answering them.

Remind your friends and family of the following things:

– The donation of a kidney is laparoscopic surgery, meaning small incision and quicker recovery…

– There is no scientific evidence in 50 years of living kidney donations that there are any ill effects to living with one kidney…

– When kidney disease occurs, it nearly always strikes both kidneys at the same time. It’s  not like one kidney fails and you find yourself knocking on wood, thankful that you’ve got a spare…

Lots of good testimonials here:

 Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

 ** Requires a Michigan driver’s license or check with your local library.


  1. I donated a kidney to a stranger, but I didn’t tell anyone apart from 3 family members who’s support I required and indeed needed before I would proceed – and they gave their support. If you are getting adverse comments from people, then dont tell anyone else, I mean none of their business anyway, so why put yourself through [to quote you] “This inexplicably hurts my feelings and I want to say: NOT HELPFUL PEOPLE. “?

    Having been hurt by one person, why risk hurtful comments again? what is there to gain by telling people? One can certainly do without unhelpful comments so best to just tell immediate family or people that it is essential to tell and noone else. At least that is how I veiw it. I cant see any gain to be had by telling people what you are doing and cetainly it would avoid any hurtful comments … just a thought.

    You can read my blog here about my donation in the UK

    I gave a kidney because I could. Once I found out it was now legal in the UK (2006) to donate to a stranger, I felt there could be no greater gift to give anyone than to give them their (and their families) life back. If I was able to donate to someone then I could not stand by and not do it. I would rather help someone now while alive than wait until I was dead and perhaps by then my organs might be useless to help anyone (family can reach a ripe age, mother being 96 years old). At least this way I knew I would be helping someone.

    Comment by Diane Franks — October 10, 2010 @ 12:10 pm |Reply

  2. Thanks for sharing–I am going to go visit your blog. The other extreme is when people go on about me being a “hero” which also makes me uncomfortable. Not a hero, just trying to help someone out.

    Comment by anne315 — October 10, 2010 @ 1:16 pm |Reply

    • goodness, we are not heroes, far from it. Perhaps another reason not to tell people, then there wont be any hurtful or uncomfortable emotions. I cannot see what is to be gained by telling people.

      God Bless

      Comment by Diane Franks — October 10, 2010 @ 2:23 pm |Reply

  3. You have made a firm decision, so it makes no sense for people to give hurtful feedback.
    It’s your business, and tell ’em your Mum sez so!

    Comment by Jan Taylor — October 10, 2010 @ 7:03 pm |Reply

  4. I think you’re crazy but for other reasons:-) Seriously, you are a caring, brave and loving person. I know you don’t like the term, “hero” so I try not to say that to you but you are what you are and that is an amazing and selfless peron. You’re also someone that I’ve been lucky enough to call my friend for 30+ years!

    Comment by jacqsworld — October 24, 2010 @ 4:56 pm |Reply

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