A Letter From Donor To Recipient

Hello, I am your kidney donor. I received your letter and am very happy to learn all is well for you and your family. My wife, children, parents and siblings are so very important to me and I very much wanted my kidney to go to a person with a loving family and obviously that wish was granted. I want to share several of my thoughts with you: why I started thinking about kidney donation, my decision making process, and some of the reasons for my donation.

In December, 2010 I watched a television program which detailed the horrific effects of renal disease and dialysis and then proceeded to describe the kidney donation process. Until seeing that program I was sadly ignorant regarding the situation and struggles inherent to those suffering kidney failure. I did not know the important basics regarding kidney function, failure, treatment, resolution options, and the physical, mental and emotional toll on patients and their families. This started my research into the disease and whether I could do something/anything to help. I researched through the internet, with special attention to credible National Kidney and Organ Donation organizations, the Mayo Clinic, plus several other renowned Health Providers recognized as leaders in kidney function and research. As my knowledge increased my desire to help increased in depth and intensity. I had many lengthy discussions with my wife, 5 children, siblings, spiritual counselors and several respected medical/kidney specialists. I searched and sought out non-directed donors, people who had given a kidney to an unknown recipient, and talked with them about their experience, feelings and reflections. I also talked with people with renal issues including a person who had successfully received a non-directed donated kidney. At this point I was leaning toward but not yet totally committed to donating a kidney.

Based on this knowledge and thought evolution my next step was to think about the philosophical and practical reasons and effects of kidney donation. As time passed my list of “whys” grew in quality and quantity whilst the “why not’s” became less significant, the reasons to donate far outweighed the few potential risks. I will offer you a small sample of my rationale:

  • It is an “accident of good fortune”, not due to any effort or activity on my part, that I have been blessed with two good kidneys. Likewise, many with renal issues suffer not due to any fault of their own. My good fortune should be shared.
  • Humans are social beings. As such we have social responsibilities to other humans. A prime responsibility is to assist in the healthy survival of our brothers and sisters.
  • The test of words and ideas is if they are backed by actions. I have tried to live by several basic values one of which is service to others. Donation of a kidney is an action I felt demonstrated this core value.
  • I find it impossible to imagine the physical, mental and emotional anguish attendant to renal disease and dialysis. The opportunity to relieve a fellow human being of such a horrible burden is a true gift for me to have the ability to deliver.
  • I find a great sense of personal satisfaction in bringing joy to my loved ones. I know that my recipient will bring joy to his loved ones and I will intuitively feel a small part of the satisfaction that occurs.
  • I learned that a kidney transplanted from a living donor will on average function 4 times longer than a kidney transplanted from a deceased donor.
  • Every day there are innumerable incidents of people performing actions, many at great risk to their own well-being, benefiting unknown others. I am not a military person protecting freedom, nor a fireman protecting life and property, nor one of innumerable other individuals dedicating their lives to serve/help others so I wanted to do what I could by donating my kidney.
  • Finally, and perhaps most important, I searched for the ousia of the human spirit, the essence of who we are, the values we, as human beings, have in common, that which sets us apart from all else, and I believe it is love. The most dire existence I can imagine is one without love and, conversely, the more love the better the existence. Recalling the last lyric of the last Beatles album: “In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.” I feel the basic foundation of love is selflessness and sharing with others.

As written above I had many discussions with people I love, respect and trust; as we went through the thinking and further developed these concepts the idea of kidney donation seriously became part of my “Bucket List” (after my surgery I thanked the surgeon for helping me tick this off my list!). Donation just made total sense to me so I made the “Go” decision. I went to the Mayo Clinic in January, 2012, 13 months after watching that thought-initiating television show, for 3+ days of intense physical and psychological testing and about a week later the Transplant Committee voted to allow me to donate.
My subsequent discussions with the Mayo Transplant team lead to a single criteria for the transplant: find the recipient whom best matches my kidney and maximizes the chances of a successful donation. I was informed in May, 2012 an excellent match recipient was found and we proceeded to schedule surgery for June 19 pending follow-up kidney function testing. After the surgery, leaving the recovery area and re-locating to my hospital room at Mayo the Transplant team visited to give me the best possible news: the transplant was successful, the transplanted kidney was fully functional and the recipient was feeling great and in good spirits! It was the report I so much wanted to hear.

As I read your kind letter to me it was very meaningful that you have a loving support group of family and friends and are “living life to its’ fullest every single day”. Bringing joy and happiness to others, especially those in need, is a core value it seems we mutually share.

This has turned out to be a bit lengthy, as I write it is hard to stop. I trust and pray you are well and will be healthy for many, many years to come.

Health and Love,

Your Donor

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