I was challenged recently to try to explain what drives me to donating to a stranger and what is in it for me. If I were paid a large sum of money, then that could be understood as to the motives behind this. But with no apparent benefit – then why do it? Very good question and not always easy to answer.
Why do people decide to sail around the world or climb the highest mountains in the most atrocious of conditions? They are hailed as Explorers and record breakers and daring and brave! Who have they benefited by doing those things? Don’t get me wrong, they are courageous and brave and have pushed the boundaries of what the body can endure to the limit and beyond and I have great admiration for them. Why then when we decide to help someone lead a better life, we are often viewed as … crazy!
Why do we do anything though? Emotions drive us either to do something or not do something. Emotions that just seem to spring from nowhere.
Sometimes the drive inside us is so strong we just can’t ignore it. I had such a desire inside me to offer one of my kidneys to someone who needed one. That desire just grew over time. I knew it was something I really wanted to do. Having said that, I did not go into this blindly. Even though my heart kept telling me this was something I wanted to do, reality also told me to investigate this, really look into it and then decide whether heart or head wins! I found nothing to dissuade me from doing this … so my heart won.
What do I get out of donating? I do agree that whenever we give, we do also receive, whether it is a great sense of satisfaction or disappointment should something go wrong.
Regardless of what we give – love, help, gift or simply a hug – we get some sort of emotion in return, even without asking for it.
I am certainly not doing this for any emotional thrill at the end. I have had some stress so far. Evaluation is taking a long time . .. the wheels turn so slowly – I am not a very patient patient…lol. There is not much support to be found as altruistic kidney donation is very much a new development in kidney donation in the UK. So finding people to just chat to about this is not easy. But then I think of the people waiting for a transplant and my frustrations pale into insignificance and it makes me even more determined to want to help one of them get back to normal life.
This was one of the reasons I started this blog, as was hard to get the full donor perspective of it all. I spent around a year, on and off, researching and still didn’t have the answers I wanted that only a donor could give. I know some people who I should tell I am donating, but they would be against this or just wouldn’t understand, so I have not told them. This also means that people close to them I cannot tell, as it is not fair to expect people to keep secrets. I can do without negative attitudes at this time and only need people who are prepared to support me – whether they agree with me or not. So that is somewhat stressful, having to keep quiet to people who perhaps I would like to include.
It is interesting that when people cannot understand why someone wants to do something unusual, that does contain risks even if small, that the person is perceived as stupid!
Once I have donated, then what? Unlike donating to a partner or child or sibling, I will have no-one to hug, no-one that I can share in the joy of seeing them begin to lead a normal life; no-one I can look down on when they are asleep and feel my love for them sweep over me – no-one I can tell that they have to take me to the Peking Palace twice a year for a slap up meal!! – No-one I can telephone to ask how they are. I will probably feel a bit depressed because I want to give them a hug and can’t. In fact I will know very little if anything about them at all. I won’t know the recipients name, or anything about them except that they so desperately needed a new kidney – so I imagine I will have a bit of an “emotional hole” for a while. I will Pray the recipient does okay and lives for many years a good life. I will also feel so very happy knowing someone has a new start in life. That feeling will far far outweigh any negative feelings. So there are no “emotional highs” in this so far – just many “emotional frustrations”.
I have had people email me offering their support. Someone who donated last year and people who are currently undergoing evaluation right now and someone just offering me their prayers and wishing me luck. I also have had emails from people telling me I am crazy, nuts, stupid!. .. .I have been verbally abused and sworn at in emails. I have been offered money even to sell my kidney to them instead of giving it away. I cannot say some of the emails have not hurt or shocked or upset me as they have, even though those people do not know me at all. Yes I put myself in that position by having a public blog. But I have also had four people contact me who are wanting to donate (3 to relatives and one considering donating to a stranger) but find it hard to get first hand information from the donor perspective and my blog has helped them decide that they do indeed wish to proceed.
It can only help people to give the full picture. I have not done the blog for any glory or emotional high. I have done it so other people won’t struggle like I have in trying to get certain questions answered but finding the medical answers still leave some holes, which as a potential donor those questions need full answers, and hopefully I can help fill those holes and so help someone make a decision – one way or the other – or be there for a donor who just needs a bit of emotional support from someone who is going through it – been through it.
Most of my life I have known people who help other people just as part of a normal day. .. often putting themselves out no end just so someone else wasn’t struggling. There was never any question of whether that person deserved help or whether one had the time to help them, one made the time and effort no matter who the person was and if you couldn’t help for whatever reason, you sure as heck found someone who could. One lady in particular who was a neighbour of mine (sadly died many years ago in her 90’s) spent most of her life helping other people who were far healthier and fitter than she was. She was an amazing person and I learned so much from her. I am sure God leads us to people to help enrich our lives.
When I heard it was now legal to donate to a stranger, I again had this strong desire to make a real difference in someone’s life. Between knowing I wanted to donate and starting the evaluation proceeding I had a year. In that time I did a lot of research and speaking to people, including donors. I sought council from my Church and spoke with immediate relatives. I have not gone into this lightly. My emotions may have driven me, but I also did my homework.
None of my research or discussions with people produced anything that made me think twice about my decision. My Christian beliefs I am sure have played a large part in making me the person I am. Life experiences have also influenced my attitudes towards events and people and life in general. It is very rewarding to be able to help someone, regardless of who they are, no matter how little or large the help.
I have been in three situations over the years where I have really really needed help, physically and or emotionally and never really got it. What help I did get – people soon tired and turned their backs. .. I do not like the thought of people struggling, wanting help and not getting it. I know the emotional pain, loneliness and depression it can bring and believe me no one should have to go through that. If I can give help to someone, anyone, I will if I can .
God willing, I hope that is what I can do in this instance.
What makes us feel the way we do? Why do we feel certain emotions? I don’t really know. All I do know is that this is something my heart tells me I want to do.
The desire to donate must come from within the heart and not from any outside pressure.
I hope this blog can help anyone who does have the desire to donate – whether to a family member, close friend, or to a stranger – to find some useful information here that will help one way or another.
If anyone would like to chat to me about this, then in the first instance you can use the contact form (link at top of page) and let me have your email and I will get back to you. Or there is a forum where you can post or just put a comment against one of the posts.
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