#4. A gift to a stranger - Sept 2011

After overhearing the conversation on the plane, it was clear to me deep inside that I was prepared to be a kidney donor if anyone ever asked me. But I knew that the chances of that happening are relatively slim. I know lots and lots of people, and only one person was ever asked to be a kidney donor (which they did).

A few months after the plane ride, I read an article about people who donated a kidney to a stranger. It was an American article that profiled a number of people who donated their kidney to people they didn’t know. For me, the article was like someone opening a door that I didn’t even know was there. It had never occurred to me that I could donate a kidney if I wasn’t asked.

That’s how I started researching about what it means to give a kidney to a stranger. In Canada they are generally called “undesignated kidney donors”. In the literature in the States, I saw the term “altruistic donor” a lot, which doesn’t really make sense because people who donate their kidneys to a family member or friend can also be altruistic.

I started thinking about it; someone was dying because they didn’t have a kidney. If it was my family member, say, my daughter, who needed a kidney, and none of our family was a match for her, would I want a stranger to donate a kidney?  Yes, I would, it would mean the world to me. So maybe I can do that for someone; some mom is waiting for a donor to save their child’s life, or some husband is waiting for their wife’s life to be saved. Maybe I can be part of that.