About ~ Why donate? ~ Brave or stupid?

Am I Brave ?

As to whether we (altruistic donors) are brave, I would say we are not.  It is the recipient who is brave along with their family. Being under dialysis for 2 – 3 – 4  – more years is no picnic. Some people have been on dialysis for 20 years or more with no hope of a transplant. Those are the brave people. I am sure if more people knew what being on dialysis was like and how that and the strict diet and fluid intake imposed on them affects them, more people would want to help.

Am I stupid?

No not at all. This is often a word used by people who do not have all the facts and cannot begin to comprehend why some people would want to help others by taking a very small risk in donating an organ. We are also called stupid by people who wish they could donate but just don’t have the “will” to, so they feel somewhat “inadequate”. I don’t view myself as anyone special, I am not. There are people out there giving of their time, day after day, year after year, to do incredible work to help people. The effort put in is far greater than I could summon up the energy to do.

It is strange how some people are hailed great heroes because they climb freezing snow capped mountains, risking losing their nose and fingers and toes and even limbs to frostbite .. and have done. They also risk death and some have died. But they knowingly take those risks – to what end? Who do they help by making such a heroic journey? Surely if taking a small risk to save someone’s life by donating an organ is stupid, then the great explorers who risk life and limb must be … insane? No of course they are not, they are brave people who push the boundaries of human endurance. They are heroes because people can relate to them. They admire the courage and determination of the men and women who risk their lives to climb great heights. They understand and appreciate how hard it is to do this – how  far beyond normal human endurance they have to push themselves – the sheer guts and determination involved. I admire those people greatly.

So why then is an altruistic donor stupid?

It is far less of a risk. Takes far less energy and effort. No super human endurance, strength or courage is required. In fact all the work is done by the surgeons, hospital staff and support of friends and relatives.  Yet what we do is not for our own achievement but to benefit someone else – yet some class us as stupid – why? because we do take a very small risk with our lives to help a total stranger. Is doing this to help a stranger such an unthinkable thing to do?

I risk my life every day when I get into my car to drive to work, or to the shops – yet it is a risk we are all prepared to take – for what? To make life easier for ourselves. We are not called stupid for knowingly risking our lives every day in our vehicles. Yet people are killed, injured, left paralysed from motor accidents. The chances of getting hurt in an accident are far greater than any major problem resulting from donating a kidney.

Why is it so hard for people to accept that some people just want to help others and to them, the risk involved by giving up an organ is far less of a risk than every day life thrusts at them?

I’m not brave and I’m not stupid, I’m simply “me”. 

I have come into contact with several people who are on dialysis waiting for “the call” that could change their lives forever.  It is not only their life that is affected by the 3 times a week dialysis in hospital and the restrictive food/water intake etc, their whole family is affected. I could wait until after my death and then let all my organs and whatever else be given to do whatever with, but who knows how I will die. It may be my organs won’t be salvageable – I may live to the ripe old age of 100 years! Heck I wonder if anyone would want my kidney then, whether it would actually be of use to anyone? I want to give something now while I can. The rest of me can wait until I have departed this world.  It also depends how I die. Not everyone who dies can be sure their organs can be used. I wanted to make sure at least one of my organs could do some good.

Did you know that you can also donate part of your liver? A lobe is cut off and transplanted into someone. Over a period of about 12 weeks your liver re-grows. Now I am not brave enough to do that!! But there are people who have donated a lobe of their liver to a close relative to save their life. Now that is being brave!


7 Responses to “Brave or Stupid”

  • Roxanne Galloway:

    Well, the article is definitely the greatest on this topic. Expressing thanks will not be sufficient. I will immediately grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Great work and much success!

  • Debbie:

    Really Good Work…. You Helping People A lot

  • Chava:

    Ahhhh!! Exactly!!! Word for word how I feel!!

    People think I’m crazy or crazy generous, but it’s neither. I won’t give up my jewelry or books just cuz I gave away a kidney lol.

    So great to read this. Should have researched more earlier on. Woulda been such a great support. Oh well. All’s well that ends well 🙂

    PS My hospital in NY told me that because liver transplants are so risky, it can.only be done for a family member or someone you are very emotionally close to.

  • Diane:

    Hi Chava,
    Glad to hear you have donated, and yes it is important and very helpful to get support which is why I set up this blog. Please spread the word.

    Risk of death with kidney donation 1:3000
    Risk of death with lobe of liver donation 1:200

    so yes, much more riskier donating part of liver.

    All the best

  • David Rose:

    It erks me a bit when I’m told how brave I am. I don’t see it like at all. I see my friend in serious trouble, kidney disease that he contracted at 18 years of age and he is now in his 50’s and needs a transplant. He is now on dialysis as the first operation date (Jan 2016) had to be postponed. My reaction to him telling us, my wife and I, of his trouble was ‘You can have one of mine’, without knowing what was involved or the possible consequences – now it would have been more appropriate to label someone ‘Brave’ if you knew all that HAHAHAHAHAHA
    Hope the transplant goes ahead on 11 October 2016, Inshallah.
    Dave Rose

  • Michelle:

    My ex partner of 19 years had a transplant 26 years ago , we have recently found out it is failinf . I got the leaflet and called the. Number and she said she would send me a pack out but as of yet I haven’t received anything. We have kids together I need and want all these tests out the way so they don’t see him as illeam as he was. He’s 46 and I’m 37


  • Diane:

    Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for posting. 26 years is a good number of years but so sorry it is now failing.

    Give the hospital another call and tell them you have not received the pack yet. You could ask if there is anywhere near you, where you can pick a copy up?

    Or maybe your ex partner is able to pick up a copy from his hospital where he is being monitored?

    Let us know how you get on Michelle, and good luck, I hope it all works out. If you are not a match for him, it could be you could go on the pooled/paired donor list. Here is some more information if you have not already seen this page

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