#36. Extending the circle - January 2012

I am starting to tell a few more people about this kidney donation journey, and there are varying reactions.  I wonder if the reactions would be more consistent if I said I was donating my kidney to my daughter or to my son.  I really don’t think anyone would blink an eye, if I was doing that.  I can’t think of any parent I know who would not do that for their son or daughter or spouse.  The reaction comes because I am doing it for a stranger, someone I have not met.

I belong to a church community that is pretty small…we have around 70 or 80 people who attend each Sunday, but probably an extended community of 100-120 if you include people who are away at school or attend only occasionally.  People know each other pretty well.  If someone in our church had kidney disease, and no one in their family was a match for them, and we saw them getting sicker and sicker waiting for a transplant…I think there are people in our church who would get tested to see if they might be a match.  I think we would extend the “family circle” to include the “church family”.

I suppose the next level would be whether or not you would extend the circle to a co-worker or neighbour or acquaintance. Perhaps it would depend on the circumstances.  Does their situation stir up compassion in you?  For example, are they caring for or providing for children who might be orphaned?  Or maybe it has to do with their character, are they a fine person, have they done a lot for others?  Maybe it has to do with their story, and the poignancy of hearing how everyone they know has been tested and no one is a match.  Maybe it has to do with seeing them getting sicker and sicker.  Or maybe it boils down to, “Do you like them?  Do you like them enough to save their life?” 

The problem is that the wider the circle gets, the less responsibility you might feel to help.  “Someone else should do this…not me!”  “Certainly they have an extended family member who could donate…not me!”    “Someone who is closer should come forward to be a donor…not me!” 

But that’s the same reasoning we use about anything!  Why should I give money to feed starving people in Africa…someone closer to them should help!  Why should I care about anyone I don’t know?  If I was starving, I would want people I don’t know to care about me!