Tuesday, July 1, 2008

You can't choose your family...

Like most people, I love my family and friends. I can't think of my life without the memories of holidays past, sitting around my grandmother's table, surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins. We all love each other dearly and only want what's best for everyone.

One big issue non-directed donors go through is how to deal with the objections of the people who love them. It's instinctive for family to want to protect us from what may be bad decisions. I'm finding that the closer I get to the donation date, the louder their cries become. "What happens if you get in an accident and your only kidney pops??" or "What happens if your child needs a kidney and you've already given it to a STRANGER?!" All the what-ifs and whys can easily be answered, but their concerns linger. Here are a few common questions and answers.

1) What happens if you get in an accident/ suffer from renal failure/ pass out in Mexico and have your kidney harvested by a band of black market organ thieves??
A) If I lose my remaining kidney for any reason, as a donor I am first on the list for a replacement kidney. Think of it as an insurance policy against future kidney loss, with the added bonus of helping someone live a healthier life.

2) What if your child or some other family member needs a kidney, and you've already donated yours to a stranger?
A) For me, this is a failed question. I would rather take a near 100% chance at helping someone today, than hoard my kidney in the slight chance a family member might need one tomorrow. While family is very important, we all have the right to live a fulfilling life, regardless of whether or not you are related to me. Hopefully, in the unfortunate event that someone in my family needs my kidney, someone else will look at my experience as a donor and step up. We can't live our lives wondering what may happen, while watching others suffer.

3) God gave us two kidneys for a reason.
A) OK, beside the fact that I don't believe in God, there are lots of things in our body we don't "need". Tonsils, adenoids, appendixes, hair on our heads. Our bodies are amazing in their ability to cope with physical deficiencies. Once my second kidney is out, the remaining kidney begins to swell in size. In 6-8 weeks, it will have grown up to 80% bigger, more than big enough to handle the burden of cleaning all the impurities from my blood.

4) Why are you doing this? What the hell is your problem??
A) The idea that I can help someone in such a profound way is very compelling to me. We chase the ridiculous goals, like wealth, beauty, and power, without realizing what is really important. Money, as I know all too well, is fleeting. Beauty fades. Power corrupts. There is no downside to helping someone live a healthy life.

If you have a family member who is donating a kidney, understand that the decision they have made has come after a lot of research and consultation. This isn't like dropping a dollar in the ASPCA tin at the deli. It is likely that a lot of time and effort has brought them to this point. From my point of view, a little more support and a little less nay saying would be just what the doctor ordered. ..

6 comments:

Erin said...

Well said, Anthony. You have my support.

adegiulio said...

Thanks Erin! You're a good friend...

Anonymous said...

Hi
Whatever anyone else may say, I believe you are taking a truly blessed action and God will forever hold you in great esteem, as will I.
Anna Montanino

adegiulio said...

Thanks Anna, that means a lot. I hope deep in their hearts, our family understands why I am doing this.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Anthony: I think what you are doing is amazing and humbling. Your responses to the concerns & objections are testaments to logic and the true spirit of giving. Ultimately, all forms of "giving" are selfish, aren't they? At least in the sense that the giver gets more than the recipient but in the case of voluntary organ donation, this may be the penultimate even scorecard! All the best to you next week; I'll be thinking of you. Take care, Cathy P.S. do you get to partake of wine again at some point? You should get SOME earthly reward, shouldn't you? :~)

adegiulio said...

Thanks Cathy. Yup, I'll be returning to the land of Insobriety once I am all healed and able to fall down on my own...