Since I started on this journey of donating a kidney the one thing that everyone seems to ask is...why? It's not a family member or someone that you know so why do you feel compelled to do this? It's truly not meant to be negative it's more out of concern for my well being and the combination of the whole idea being foreign to them.
I chose to do it because I wanted to make a difference. This is my way of giving and knowing that someone will have a chance at life. A chance for someone to live a more comfortable life without dialysis and to have renewed life with their loved ones. I realize this is not a comfortable decision for a lot of people. It is my mission to see the numbers of altruistic donors increase. For people to understand that living with one kidney does not change the quality of their own life.
It would be irresponsible to say that there can't be any possible pitfalls, but I feel they are minimal and that being well read on the topic is vital to making your decision. Becoming a donor is an extensive process of testing, more testing, scans, interviews and all being done for your well being as much as the potential recipient. For me personally, the positives far outweighed the negatives.
I dug into all the information I could find and I had a true advantage of being familiar with The John Brockington Foundation based in San Diego, California and The Living Kidney Donor Network based here in Chicago, started by Harvey Mysel. I looked to them both as mentors helping guide me through the process, answering questions and offering suggestions.
No one can persuade you nor should they. This must be a decision that you and you alone are determined to make. I told my friends and family members early on in the process about my decision and I would say that 95% were totally behind me. You have to be prepared for the Why question and know in your heart and head that you feel comfortable with your decision.
What I can tell you from my personal experience is that I could not be happier about my kidney donation. When I originally had my initial interviews with the psychology department and the social worker ... I was amazed at the number of questions. But as I look back, I completely understand why. We discussed for hours the pros and cons, what to expect and I had a case worker assigned from the hospital who I could speak to anytime with an concerns or questions I might have.
One of the questions asked of me is did I want to be an individual donor (one to one) or did I want to be part of a kidney pairing. My first preference was to be part of pairing because more than one person will receive a kidney by doing so. Little did I know that I would be part of such a large pairing! It was overwhelming at times but I was even more excited to think so many would benefit. Sometimes being part of a pairing is not possible depending on blood type and it must be a specific donation. I definitely preferred the pairing for obvious reasons stated before, but I also was not against a one to one donation. All I really cared about...is seeing someone benefit.
There was a time where an altruistic donor was looked at in a different light than today. It carried some very negative connotations as if one couldn't be in their right mind to want to do such a thing. Obviously that is NOT the case today. There are a lot of people out there under the misconception that you can't donate a kidney unless it's a family member or someone that you know and have a close relationship to.