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!
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