I just got a phone call to let me know that I am cleared to donate my kidney to my friend Ron. This has been in process for a while, but it's always seemed remote, something that might not happen. So now we are scheduling surgery and it's very real.
People who know say: You are such a good person. You're a hero. You're so brave.
Ron is not the only person I know who needs a kidney transplant. I personally know or have known in my life three people who have had to live on dialysis and face an uncertain future.
I think that they are brave.
How hard must it be to get up everyday and know that you will die unless you are hooked up to a machine? What we now know is that living kidney donors can live long, healthy lives, sometimes longer and healthier than the general public because they, or now I can say we, are healthier than the general public to begin with.
There were several factors that started me on the road to this decision a couple of years ago: 1) I don't have my own children. For me this matters because if I did have kids I would want to save my spare parts for them. 2) We don't have kidney disease in my family, or hypertension or diabetes which are often the precursors to kidney disease and 3) Ron loves the Grateful Dead and so do I and the reality is that there aren't that many people in my life that get what that was all about. So even though he and I are very different we are in the same tribe.
There are other more obvious reasons why I decided to do this - he's married to one of my oldest and best friends, their daughter is 13 and she's a very special kid in my life, we're both O positive.
But, at the end of the day I'm doing this because I can and I want to and I am moved to do so. Doesn't make me a good person, or someone who couldn't imagine doing it, a bad person.
It's about life and what feels right for me.