When I decided to donate a kidney to a stranger (Mt. Sinai, NYC, 06/25/09), I had a lot of questions about living kidney donation. My friends who had themselves donated a kidney shared the kind of knowledge you only get from going through the process.
I was so lucky to have those people in my life. As someone who’s now “been there,” I decided to start this site as a resource for living donors and their family and friends.
If you’re thinking about donating a kidney, I hope you find lots of information here to let you know that it is safe and life-changing in any number of great ways. You are not alone, and you are not crazy. OK, you’re a little crazy.
And if you’re freaking out because someone you love wants to donate a kidney and you think they’re nuts, well, of course you’re freaking out. But it will be OK.
I got the name for this site from my kidney recipient, who introduced me to his neighbors as his “kidney mama.” It’s a great shorthand description of who I am to him. But at a deeper level, donating a kidney has definitely left me with maternal feelings.
I feel very mother hen-ish toward people who need and people who want to give a kidney, with the occasional mother bear moment.
I try not to pontificate too much, but here and there, my opinions slip into the posts. Some things that I hold to be true are:
- There is no kidney shortage. We have about 300 million excess kidneys in this country walking around in people who think that donating a kidney is a huge surgical undertaking (it isn’t) and doesn’t make that much difference because people can survive just fine on dialysis (they can’t).
- Organ donor cards will never solve the kidney shortage, because very few kidneys from deceased donors are usable. Until we can grow kidneys in a lab, living donation is the only viable option, no pun intended, for retiring “the list.”
- The medical profession needs to wrap its brain around nonrelated donors and find a way to make the donation process more accessible to them. Do outreach to encourage living donation! (Read more about the reasons for the medical community’s discomfort with stranger donors in this Wall Street Journal piece from 2007.)
- It is ludicrous and unethical to let thousands of people die each year for lack of a kidney because it is supposedly wrong to compensate donors. Countries that legally compensate donors have no waiting list.
- It is not theoretically possible to save someone’s life for “the wrong reasons.” It is always the right decision to save someone’s life if you can.
- Kidney donors are not superhuman heros. “Hero” puts a person on a pedestal as different, and lets people avoid considering that they could do what that person did. Kidney donors are ordinary people who were bold enough to step up and do something truly loving and obvious. Of course one should save another’s life. Of course.
All that aside, I hope you’ll find stories on this site that will encourage you and answer your questions. If I can be of any help, please contact me.