Archive for August, 2009

Here’s a nice little story from Voz iz Neias about my kidney matchmaker Chaya‘s transplant match between a father of 9 and a father of 10.

“My sacrifice is just a few days of discomfort,” he says. “The reward of saving a man’s life, giving a father his life back, giving a family their father and husband back, outweighs all the risks..

Chaya is a force of nature, and donor Rabbi Ephraim Simon has a lot of wonderful, thoughtful things to say in the article, as you might think a rabbi would. But my favorite quotes are from Rabbi Simon’s mom.

“I initially had a mother’s natural reaction,” reveals Judy Simon, 61, who at first was very concerned about her son’s long-term health. ”But after doing research, I realized that there is no reason to be.”

After a “heart-warming” meeting with the recipient’s family at the hospital during the procedure, the mother says that it’s “incredible to have a child do this altruistic thing. I feel so honored and blessed to be part of it and to say he is my son!”


Olivia Corso smoked too much and maybe enjoyed fattening food a little too much, too, but when her clean-living brother Domenic Lancellotta’s kidney’s failed, she stepped up. She quit smoking and dropped a few pounds to donate a kidney to Dom, notes the Valley Breeze.

She hopes that others will be inspired about becoming a donor, despite the emotional mix that accompanies such an endeavor. She recalls times when she became scared, not for her self, but for her mother, brother and his family. With the help of her faith, family members, people at work and friends, she was able to overcome her fear.

“They meant so much to me. Their support helped carry me through my journey, which I now feel has been the best physical and emotional challenge of my life. I feel privileged and proud of myself for doing it.”

I’m proud of you, too, hon.

A woman in Houston, Texas, named Jan advertised on Craigslist that she needed a kidney transplant, and military vet Michael Patton decided it was time to serve once again, reports KHOU.

“She had all these people try to give her a kidney and nobody was able to,” said Connie Patton, Michael’s wife.

But hospital tests showed that Michael Patton could.

“Mike came along and everything’s perfect. It’s like God put them together,” said Connie Patton

Sounds familiar! Anyway, good on ya, Mike.

Hurray for Homecoming queen Shannon Baldauf, whom WTOV notes donated her kidney to Jarred Lazear, whom she met just once before the surgery.

She said she never thought twice about going through with the donation after she graduated from West Liberty. She has since recovered from the surgery, which she said really wasn’t that bad.

She’s also shaved her head for St. Baldrick’s and donated to Locks of Love.

“I don’t need hair. I don’t need the other kidney. So, if I can help someone or save a life, why not? I don’t need it,” said Baldauf.

Zackly. You go, Homecoming girl!

Does the Kidney Mama care if Nick Rosen got paid $20,000 to come to the U.S. and donate a kidney? She does not.

Seems like a win-win. This guy does not seem like the type who would have donated out of the goodness of his heart, so the money made it happen and saved someone’s life. Saving someone’s life is good. Should Brad Gursky have played by the rules and died? Would the world be better?

I’m glad Rosen was not threatened like some of the other Israeli paid donors. I’m glad Gursky is well. Should donors be paid? I don’t think it’s wrong, but it’s thorny.

Rosen, for his part, said he endured “months of tests” and couldn’t work, so he should be paid. Uhh yeah, I had three days of tests and interviews and would have only missed a week of work if I’d had my way.

Bottom line, the system is broken if more than 4,000 Americans die a year die waiting for a kidney. I can’t blame anyone by taking a “by any means necessary” approach. I would.

Scott Stromer had an interesting dilemma: He needed a kidney, and everyone in his family was a match, as reported by John Schneider in the Lansing State Journal.

When it came right down to it, Stromer didn’t have much of a role in choosing the donor. Those arranging the transplant advised him to stay out of the discussion as much as possible.

That sounds wise. In the end, the family decided his wife would donate.

Twenty-year-old Caila Curtis is ready to step up and donate a kidney to help her 17-year-old brother, Wayne, notes the El Paso Times.

“He’s 17 years old. This is the most important time in his life,” she said, adding that doctors estimate he could keep the kidney for 20 to 25 years.

“The next 20 years of his life, from here to 37, that’s when he gets married. That’s when he has kids,” Caila said. “That’s when he goes to college and hangs out with his friends and gets to go out and doesn’t have to be in bed at 10 o’clock because he has to be hooked up to a (dialysis) machine.”

Interestingly, they warned her that she might not be able to have children. They told me to please not get pregnant for at least two months after the surgery. “No worries,” I said.

Here’s something I didn’t know: 1 in 5 people in Nigeria has kidney disease, yet there is only one dialysis machine for every million people. OK, two things I didn’t know.

Needless to say, the mortality rate from kidney disease in Nigeria is high. But the Sunday Mercury notes that doctors there are building on their transplant knowledge. Hence, today’s story about a team from the UK helping to save the lives of two children by teaching Nigerian transplant surgeons the ins and outs (literally) of conducting transplants on pediatric kidney patients.

‘‘But then we got a desperate call a few months ago from them saying two boys were extremely sick and would die without our help. “They had never done any transplants on children before, but they had raised enough money to keep them alive until we could organise a team to get there and show them how to do it. You can’t ignore something like that.

Once they learned a transplant team was coming, one boy’s brother and the other’s father happily offered to donate. The father had already lost two children to kidney failure. Good heavens.

Anyway, both boys, 14 and 17, are doing great  and a spokeswoman for Transplant Links, which made the trip possible, said, “The families are so grateful and can’t thank us enough.” See photos from the trip on the Transplant Links site.

OK, I’m exaggerating, but since I donated a kidney to a stranger, I’ve read several articles Ms. Postrel has written about the difficulty of persuading the medical community to accept the kidney you’re freely offering, and I think she just might be my hero if not divine.

This is from one of my favorite articles, from the archives of

But, as I discovered firsthand, you have to be incredibly pushy to make a live donation to anyone but a close relative. My doctor said, “You know you can change your mind.” My parents were appalled. Many people couldn’t understand why I didn’t wait until Sally got sicker or had been on dialysis for a while. Most people have a visceral reaction against the whole idea.

This widespread attitude pressures donors to back out. It also shapes policies that deter living donors. Many hospitals and bioethicists seem to believe a demeaning set of assumptions:

  • Normal people won’t give up an organ except under coercion.
  • Anything that encourages a decision to donate is coercion.
  • To avoid coercion, living donors should be discouraged.

Some transplant centers require intrusive psychological probes that scare people off. Some bioethicists treat benevolence or religious conviction as a mental disorder. Even relatively supportive transplant centers like mine make it easier to quit than to go through with it.

The scrutiny is particularly nasty when people want to give to “strangers”– not truly unknown people but patients they’ve gotten to know through Internet sites or news coverage. Many centers flatly refuse “directed donations” to specific strangers, forcing donors to lie about how they met recipients.

Tell it, sister.