My Kidney Donation

Four years ago I read an article by a forty-nine year old psychiatrist named Sally Satel. In 2004, her kidneys were breaking down, and her article was about the experience of trying (ultimately successfully) to find a donor. Her search sounded like an awful thing to go through.  In the article, three different people, one after the other,  each told her that they would donate, and then weeks or months later each time, all three of them, one after the other, told her that they wouldn’t. I’d imagine that if you need a kidney, one of  the horrible experience you must undergo must be to need to beg for your life (in a genteel and passive-aggressive way): telling one friend after another about your unfortunate condition while silently hoping that they’d take pity and offer to help.  Surely, even the luckiest victim of kidney failure must find themselves feeling a twinge of hope at the desired words: “Maybe, I can do something;” and “I might be a match;” all the while trying to not become encouraged as the conversation is concluded with a: “Let me look into it” or  “Let me see what my husband thinks.” Of course even people with a relatively easy experience finding a donor likely must have had to replay that gut-wrenching game at least a few times before achieving success. Satel’s journey was worse, after running that emotional gauntlet, she found three different people who each made a firm commitment to grant her the hoped-for kidney and then let that commitment linger for weeks or months and become firmer and firmer in her mind.  Only then, after she maybe (at least the first couple of times) let herself believe that her life would be saved, three different people disappointed her. I have never had anything in my life that could possibly have led to that level of despair, and she went through it three different times.  Luckily, a fourth person, a modest acquaintance from work, came through. Continue reading