Keep The Kidney, Baby – Give Your Time Instead

I don’t get these folks who like to donate their extra kidneys to perfect strangers.  Clearly, there is some kind of really major issue there.  (“I had an unborn twin that didn’t make it, because I was hogging all the kidneys…..”)

There was a story in a recent Parade magazine about organ donation.  The cover image and words turned out to be tremendously misleading, and I grew incensed as I read the actual article.

The picture on the magazine cover is one of a beautiful middle-aged woman, surrounded by four older people that are kind of hugging her.  She is beaming.  A caption nearby says something vague about how this woman’s son had something to do with this group of (also-beaming) organ recipients, which they called a “chain of life”.  I assumed the woman’s young son had died, had plenty of healthy organs to go around, and that’s why these four older people were able to attend this meaningful photo shoot.

But once you open the magazine and start to read the article, you are reminded again to never assume.  (Because, as Tony Randall famously taught us, “it makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’”.)  (And I hope “u” realize that this held true long before txting!)

You thought you only needed to take that “never assume” approach when reading headlines of tabloid magazines next to the grocery store check-out line, right?  No, folks.  You need to do that now when reading anything.  Even when listening to story teasers on news channels.  And of course, whenever watching the weather, but you already knew that.

As it turns out (and I truly feel bad for this woman and her family), the son died in a horrible car accident.  Due to massive infection, his organs could not be donated.  But it’s what he would have wanted, so, in the son’s memory, the mother donated a kidney to a stranger.  The spouse of that stranger was then inspired to donate a body part to another stranger, and so the wonderful chain of life begins.

Don’t get me wrong….I think random altruism is great.  But donating a kidney to a stranger means you have issues.  Especially if you are a parent, or a caretaker, or basically if you’ve got anyone in the world that gives a sh!t about you.  If you donate an organ to someone, and then later find you could have used it, it impacts your ability to take care of those to whom you have responsibility.  What if your organ’s new host later died in a senseless car crash, with your extra kidney on board?  You’d really be bummed.  I told my husband I’d kill him if he donated a kidney to a stranger.  The cynical among you ask, “Well, with the life insurance, wouldn’t it be worth it?”  Nope.  It’s difficult to enjoy insurance proceeds while in prison.

In conclusion:  the biggest donation you can give to anyone is your time.  It’s true; there won’t be quite the same fanfare as when they drop your extra liver-lobes into a stryofoam cooler in the ER.  And, most likely, the food won’t be as good as it is at a Parade magazine photo shoot.  But you’ll have the best reward of all:  the knowledge that your time and attention made a person who needed it feel good.  And you cannot put a price on that.  Short of organ donation, it’s the best way to give someone a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

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