#37. Stranger is cleaner - January 2012

As I’ve thought about it, in some ways it might be easier to donate to a total stranger, than to an acquaintance.  I don’t know the situation of the person who will get my kidney, or anything at all about their life.  If they were an acquaintance, I might look at other people in their life, and ask, “Why aren’t they testing to be a donor?” 

Or maybe I might be judgemental about health decisions they make; are they living a good lifestyle? If they aren’t making health choices I approve of, maybe I would be reluctant to give them a kidney. For example, if they don’t exercise, or they drink a lot, or they smoke, it might give me pause as to whether I want to donate to them.  Would they care for my kidney the way I have cared for my body?

Or if I knew them, I might ask about the kind of life they are living.  Are they a kind and loving person, who people will miss?  Or are they a stingy, mean person that no one seems to care about?  It would be hard to give a kidney to someone who was very unpleasant to be around.

But a life is a life.  Doctors and nurses face this all the time.  They have to set aside all personal prejudices or value judgements about the way a person is living, and just try to save them. 
In some ways, not knowing the person, makes it easier to donate because it’s cleaner.  It’s a life.  What kind of life is it?  I have no idea, and maybe that’s best.  It’s a life, and that’s all I need to know.