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Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:38 PM

My son just called me

to ask me how I would feel about him donating a kidney. My first response was to say NO, and I'm ashamed to say I asked him if he was thinking of selling one his. He's a 21 year old musician who is always broke and has donated blood for the money. I was horrified at the thought of him taking it to the ridiculous and dangerous.

I could not have been more wrong. His friend's father needs a kidney. They are having problems finding someone willing and able to give up a healthy one. My son wanted to know how I would feel if he wanted to help.

I'm in shock right now. The thought of my son, my baby, the little boy I carried and gave life to, actually giving up a part of himself is so terrifying I can barely let myself think about it. At the same time I couldn't be more proud, or sure, of the compassionate, loving man my son has become.

I told him how frightened I would be if he made that decision. That if it were up to me I would probably not want him to. But that if he did make that choice, there could be no more generous a gift. I told him he needed to research and understand a lot more about it before making that decision and I suggested he talk to his father and then talk to me some more.

I'm truly shaken and fighting back tears right now.

Wow. What a great kid.

56 replies, 7391 views

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Arrow 56 replies Author Time Post
Reply My son just called me (Original post)
Control-Z Jun 2012 OP
handmade34 Jun 2012 #1
orpupilofnature57 Jun 2012 #3
Liberal_in_LA Jun 2012 #29
Control-Z Jun 2012 #4
Voice for Peace Jun 2012 #28
sharp_stick Jun 2012 #2
Control-Z Jun 2012 #6
gateley Jun 2012 #5
Control-Z Jun 2012 #12
notadmblnd Jun 2012 #7
enough Jun 2012 #8
Control-Z Jun 2012 #26
riderinthestorm Jun 2012 #9
tru Jun 2012 #33
riderinthestorm Jun 2012 #38
revolution breeze Jun 2012 #56
pnwmom Jun 2012 #10
cynatnite Jun 2012 #16
pnwmom Jun 2012 #31
cynatnite Jun 2012 #40
pnwmom Jun 2012 #42
cynatnite Jun 2012 #11
tularetom Jun 2012 #13
lindac007 Jun 2012 #14
Brickbat Jun 2012 #15
southernyankeebelle Jun 2012 #17
B2G Jun 2012 #19
kudzu22 Jun 2012 #20
B2G Jun 2012 #21
kudzu22 Jun 2012 #43
southernyankeebelle Jun 2012 #22
southernyankeebelle Jun 2012 #54
kudzu22 Jun 2012 #18
lunatica Jun 2012 #23
TrogL Jun 2012 #24
awoke_in_2003 Jun 2012 #25
mtnester Jun 2012 #27
Control-Z Jun 2012 #46
longship Jun 2012 #30
Control-Z Jun 2012 #47
longship Jun 2012 #53
Smilo Jun 2012 #32
Ms. Toad Jun 2012 #34
Cleita Jun 2012 #35
TuxedoKat Jun 2012 #36
AndyA Jun 2012 #37
renate Jun 2012 #39
enough Jun 2012 #41
Baitball Blogger Jun 2012 #44
LuckyLib Jun 2012 #45
Control-Z Jun 2012 #49
Cherchez la Femme Jun 2012 #48
Ms. Toad Jun 2012 #55
NightWatcher Jun 2012 #50
StatGirl Jun 2012 #51
leftynyc Jun 2012 #52

Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:40 PM

1. wow

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Response to handmade34 (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:42 PM

3. wow wow

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Response to orpupilofnature57 (Reply #3)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 06:21 PM

29. triple wow! But I know someone who donated a kidney & was fine

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Response to handmade34 (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:43 PM

4. It really is a "wow"

isn't it? I wasn't sure if maybe I was overreacting. Thank you for the .

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Response to Control-Z (Reply #4)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 06:21 PM

28. not overreacting at all

and I think beautifully handled, truthful, and respectful of his choice.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:42 PM

2. As a parent I can see how scary that can be

as a medical professional, well medical researcher, I am amazed and wildly gratified at the generosity shown by people as caring as your son.

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Response to sharp_stick (Reply #2)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:44 PM

6. Thanks you.

Now I am crying.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:44 PM

5. What a great kid and what an honest, giving response.

The fact that he asked how you would feel speaks volumes of his love and respect for you.

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Response to gateley (Reply #5)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:51 PM

12. He really just blew my mind

in so many ways with that phone call. All I had to give him was the truth. That's all there really is when it comes to something like this.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:44 PM

7. He needs to give it serious consideration

It could affect his ability to obtain health insurance in the future.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:45 PM

8. Indeed an extremely generous impulse.

He might want to read this thread on DU:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002800809

It links to the story of a father who donated a kidney to his adult daughter and since then has been refused medical coverage because he only has one kidney.

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Response to enough (Reply #8)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 06:15 PM

26. I don't think this was an impulse.

Knowing my son, he's been giving it a lot of thought. He's known this friend and his family for a long time. The boys went to school together and are now in a band together. I would guess he's been watching the father's health decline for some time now.

I will, however, sit him down and make him read every caution in this thread, and more, and then some more. I find the input here invaluable and am so grateful for having DU to come to in moments like this. Thank you for the link. He will read it and so will I. I promise.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:46 PM

9. Really BIG wow! Amazing son!

Here's a link to a fact sheet that may help calm your fears and worries....

http://www.dukehealth.org/repository/dukehealth/2010/02/04/12/08/06/4318/Kidney-LivingDonorFactSheet.pdf

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #9)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 07:17 PM

33. be careful

 

This is a wonderful impulse, but my experience has been that medical professionals really minimize the possible difficulties a donor might encounter, because they are so desperate to get an organ.

He should talk to a disinterested medical professional, someone your family trusts.

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Response to tru (Reply #33)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 07:55 PM

38. My sister just received a kidney/liver transplant in February 2012

As the primary "support team member" I was with her for the month following the surgery as well as almost all of the pre-op doctor visits (and I live in IL, my sister lives in CA - the surgery was in San Francisco!!).

I completely agree with you that its really important for everyone involved to feel comfortable with whats in store, as well as being comfortable with the surgical team (and it is a team when it involves a transplant). Wise words tru!

I think its a beautiful generous offer on the part of the OP's son however there's a very, very long road that must be travelled before he is the donor. The tests to see how well matched her son is with the recipient will most likely knock him out of contention (beyond the many, many other hurdles that must be crossed).

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #38)

Thu Jun 14, 2012, 08:53 AM

56. My mom had a kidney transplant July 29,1996,

Her 50th birthday.We all know this was the greatest gift she ever received and Terri, her donor, has become one of our family. As she was an only child and her parents has passed, it is a blessing for all of us.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:46 PM

10. Speaking as someone who has a family member who might need a kidney some day,

I am not really in favor of very young people giving organs to much older people. I would not accept one from one of my own children, much less someone else's child. That 21 year old has his whole life in front of him, and he could end up with a young cousin or even a sibling who needed a kidney. It doesn't seem right to me when older people, who have lived good lives, take that kind of sacrifice from a young person.

Another issue is health insurance. I just read yesterday about insurance companies denying coverage to perfectly healthy kidney donors, even though there is no reason to think that having a single kidney will damage their health.

But you have a wonderful son. Kudos to you for the job you've obviously done raising him.

Here's a thread about insurance:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002800809

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #10)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 05:04 PM

16. How old is too old?

How do you determine who has lived enough of a life or a long enough one?

Of course, a person must take in consideration all of these questions you pose and more. There are ethical and moral issues that come with organ donation. I think that it's perfectly reasonable for anyone to wrestle with these.

What bothers me is the judgments that people pass who are not in the shoes of the people involved. I don't think anyone has a right to tell people in these situations that a person is too old or that the donor may come to regret it. It comes across more anti-choice than anything. It's their body and they've got the right to do with it as they see fit.

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Response to cynatnite (Reply #16)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 07:08 PM

31. I'm more concerned with the youth of the donor.

I wouldn't have a problem with a middle-aged person voluntarily choosing to donate to an elderly person. That middle-aged person has enough life experience to make that decision.

But I think few 21 year olds are. And while it could make sense for a 21 year old to donate to his 20 year old sister, whom he dearly loves, I'm more uncomfortable with a 21 year old donating to someone two or three times his age, and a stranger.

As an older person myself, and knowing the possible problems that can occur with kidneys, I wouldn't take an living organ donation from a twenty-something. There are always shortages of kidneys, and young people should be getting priority as recipients, not donors.

I'm not saying a 21 year old should be legally prohibited from donating. It should be his choice. But I think an middle-aged person should really examine his or her conscience before asking a young person to do so.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #31)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 08:28 PM

40. If I'm reading the OP correctly, her son volunteered...

and was not asked.

I don't think it makes a difference either way whether asked, not asked, volunteer or whatever. If two people make a decision together, it's theirs and not our place to judge or even to fault them. It's their bodies and their decisions.

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Response to cynatnite (Reply #40)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 10:10 PM

42. His mother is still thinking all this through, and if she wasn't interested in people's

opinions, she wouldn't be asking for them.

And if he didn't care about her opinion, he wouldn't be asking her.

Who is faulting anyone here? I applaud him for his generosity -- I just think it might be too much of a sacrifice for a young person, even if he is interested in volunteering.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:51 PM

11. You have an awesome kid!

Yeah, it's scary. I would also urge you and your family to visit with a doctor as well. A physician can answer your questions and help allay your fears...at least to some degree.

Of course, he will have to undergo testing to see if he is donor compatible. That is usually a huge hurdle.

Regardless of how it turns out, make sure he knows you support him and are proud of him. It is truly a generous gift from the heart. People who are willing to do this are heroes. You have every right to be proud of the man that is your son.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:54 PM

13. Long as he isn't planning to donate it to Cheney I say major props to him

It's a kind and generous gesture and your pride in him is justified.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 04:55 PM

14. Congratulations to you

You were, no doubt, a very positive influence on your son and it shows in his capacity to help those in need. You should be proud of him. He is paying it forward and in a good way. Good luck to him and to his friend's father. Don't you wish all kids were like him? I know I do.

I have a wonderful son as well and every day I wake up and thank god for his thoughtfulness and consideration of others.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 05:02 PM

15. He should talk to his health insurance provider, as this can change his future eligibility.

Ugly, but true.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 05:05 PM

17. Well you have a wonderful son and you should be proud. But please make sure he thinks it

 

over really hard. Will he be able to get health insurance on his own if he doesn't have any. I was just reading someone got turned down because of donating a kidney and it made him a pre-condition problem. Think it through. That is all am saying.

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #17)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 05:21 PM

19. And will he have physical limitations imposed

as a result of this? Truly, I admire his intentions, but it's a potentially life altering decision.

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Response to B2G (Reply #19)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 05:28 PM

20. I've been living with one kidney for years.

It feels exactly like having two kidneys, except for the big scar.

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Response to kudzu22 (Reply #20)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 05:31 PM

21. Do you have limitations for around physical activities

that could result in injury to your remaining kidney? That's what I was referring to, not the ability to function with one kidney.

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Response to B2G (Reply #21)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 10:21 PM

43. No contact sports

That's pretty much all they told me. Could be a concern for a 21 year old, not an old fart like me.

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Response to B2G (Reply #19)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 05:31 PM

22. I didn't even think of that. Your right. I do admire him for even thinking about it.

 

It is a big decision.

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Response to B2G (Reply #19)

Wed Jun 13, 2012, 06:37 PM

54. Like a good parent you put it out there. Hope he makes the best decision. Prayers are coming your

 

way that your son will have done the right thing for him.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 05:19 PM

18. Warning!!!

You have a great kid there, but make sure he's considered all the consequences.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/11/the-reward-for-donating-a-kidney-no-insurance/?partner=EXCITE&ei=5043

If he has insurance now, he should be ok as long as he never lets it lapse. Otherwise he could be in for a lifetime of hurt. That is, unless the PPACA is upheld.

Edit to clarify: The HIPAA law protects you from pre-existing exclusions so long as you maintain qualifying coverage without gaps (I think 30 days is the maximum). Otherwise, they can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions (which includes voluntary ones like donating) for up to 12 months on a group plan. An individual plan can exclude them indefinitely, depending on which state, or refuse to issue coverage at all. This is all eliminated by PPACA, if it is upheld.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 05:31 PM

23. My nephew gave a kidney to the son of a friend of the family

He's never missed it in the least. His life is perfectly normal in every way.

But there has to be very close match to minimize rejection of the kidney. Chances are your son might not be a good match.

The operation on the donor is pretty drastic but the operation was in the UCSF hospital and he was given a pain reliever that he could press a button to get more if he needed it.

The person getting the kidney actually has a much easier time of it. The kidney doesn't go where the kidney normally goes. It's put into the abdominal cavity close to the bladder, and believe it or not it starts to work immediately while the patient is still on the operating table.

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Response to lunatica (Reply #23)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 05:34 PM

24. They could set up a kidney transplant chain

The record is 30

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 06:04 PM

25. Good kids rarely happen by accident...

you raised him to be this type of person- you should be proud (although I can understand a bit of fear)

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 06:20 PM

27. Ironic that this story about a donor being denied insurance is on the same page as this one right no

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002800726

Probably a read for your family.

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Response to mtnester (Reply #27)

Wed Jun 13, 2012, 02:33 PM

46. Kind of great, isn't it,

that the insurance story has been highlighted here, coincidentally, on the same day? I can't say it is something I would have considered without the OP and everyone's concern.

It is just like DU to tell me everything and more than I thought I should know.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 06:24 PM

30. Your tagline is flawless. It says it all.

Wow! What a great kid.


My advise? You've shared this with us, share this post with him. (I suspect that you already have.)

This is family values, writ strong.

What a wonderful thing that is.

Better yet. Share the whole thread with him so that he should know what a wonderful person he is.

In this dark world, there is always some sunshine. How proud you must be of his unquestionable ethics. It is what stands us all here at DU aside of so many.


Thank you and your family values for this post. I am in awe.

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Response to longship (Reply #30)

Wed Jun 13, 2012, 02:55 PM

47. I'll save this thread to refer to

in the future often, I'm sure. I'm not sure my son would appreciate the attention at this point, though. He has already asked me not to share this with any of his friends. I'll even wait for him to share it with his sisters. On his terms.

I love your message though, and really appreciate every word you wrote. You've reinforced a lot of what I was hoping. As a mother I never really know if my words are the right ones, if my advice is having a positive impact on my children or if they've even heard me in the first place.

But I think my kids were just born with good hearts. I really do. I've always felt it was my job to keep the perfection they were born with in tact as much as humanly possible. And there are so many times when I know I've failed miserably. But something is right here and for that I am so very grateful.

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Response to Control-Z (Reply #47)

Wed Jun 13, 2012, 05:29 PM

53. But we now all know the extent that you've succeeded

So you're not gonna get away with claiming failure.

Just kidding, of course.

I think DU is justifiably proud that there are people here like you and so many others. It is why you shared your experience with DU. Who are we to let you down?


We're a community here. We help our own.
And kudos to you and your family.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 07:17 PM

32. Thank you for your honesty.

I hope all turns out as you want.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 07:31 PM

34. As a mom of a daughter who will one day need a liver

First of all, please give your son ginormous hugs from me for even thinking about it. I am overwhelmed by the compassion and generosity of your son -

But I am also aware of the sheer terror associated with the live donor process. Even more so for the family of the donor than the donor himself. I started the live donor review process so that I could potentially be a live liver donor for another friend with the same illness as my daughter. (I age out of being eligible before my daughter will need a liver - and I don't want another mom to lose her son on the waiting list when I have a liver to share. Ultimately another donor was selected.)

Rest assured he will be thoroughly screened, both medically and psychologically. No living donor program wants to take any risks with voluntary surgery - either with a bad outcome, or with emotional regrets. There are a lot of steps between putting your name forward and becoming a donor. I know people who have gone all the way through to the next to last step, and it has fallen through. I don't know anyone who went through with the donation (liver, not kidney) who wishes they hadn't. That includes a handful of people whose liver only bought the recipient a short period of time before it was rejected and replaced by another.)

See if your son is willing to have you involved - it might be easier for you if you can be included in the decision (at least in terms of acquiring information).

Feel free to PM me, if an ear that is relatively close to the transplant process from both perspectives would be useful.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 07:33 PM

35. That is a wonderful kid.

It's no small deal to donate an organ. Give him a big hug!

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 07:36 PM

36. Wow indeed!

You have raised a wonderful young man. I hope all goes well whatever he decides.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 07:40 PM

37. You must be very proud of your son!

He's a reflection of you, and there isn't much more a person could do for others than to give in this manner.

I'm glad others have posted the concern about ability to get insurance later in life, hopefully that will be less of a concern going forward, but it's certainly worthy of consideration.

It's wonderful to hear stories like this, it proves humanity is alive and well today, and we could all stand a little more of that.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 08:15 PM

39. what an amazing person--I can't even imagine how proud you are of him!

After just being astonished by his selflessness and generosity, my first pragmatic thought was about how this could seriously affect his financial future, because I've just read the NYT story about the guy who was refused insurance.

He's an angel, but I hope he won't let the family's gratitude influence him into something he may decide he isn't quite ready to do. Just the impulse to help, the fact that he's seriously considering this gift, says enough about him; he won't become a bad or unselfish person if he changes his mind once the realities sink in.

I'm glad he asked you for your advice and is keeping you in the loop.

A big big to him and a big big to you and his dad. You all are great people!

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 09:51 PM

41. One question that should be examined: what is the family/social interaction that

is making your 21 year old musician son want to donate a kidney to his friend's father? What is his ongoing connection to the people in this family?

I know it is a wonderfully generous feeling that makes him think he wants to do this. It's wonderful for you to see this sort of human connection manifesting itself in your child. You have good reason to be proud of him.

It must be a very intense feeling that is making him want to make this offer of bodily contribution to his friend's father.
Do you as his parent understand why he is thinking of doing this? I'm wondering also whether the friend's father would even consider accepting such a sacrifice from someone so young from outside his family (or even someone so young from within his own family)?

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 11:45 PM

44. I'm going to say something that might come across as uncaring. But it has to be said.

Make sure that he knows everything about the person he's going to donate to. God forgive me for saying this, but I know someone who received a kidney and he was not receiving the psychological support he needed to deal with what was happening to him. He was use to living well (partying) and at the age of 60 when his health began to fail, he may not have had the best support group to rely on. Good guy, and good friends, but getting old requires changes in ones life. He didn't stop smoking cigarettes even after he received the kidney and he had other issues as well.

To make it short, he couldn't deal with the anxiety attacks and ended his life shortly after the procedure.

Sometimes these private arrangements take too many shortcuts.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Wed Jun 13, 2012, 02:31 PM

45. I have two friends who have donated kidneys, one who

has received both of them. The testing process is a long one to make sure he is an optimal match. It's actually a bit harder on the donor than the receiver, as the receiver is getting a whole new lease on kidney functioning immediately. The donor bounces back with some weeks recovery, but both donors I know did just fine.

If you want to read a wonderful story about the largest kidney donation chain across the US, check out the NY Times article below: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/health/lives-forever-linked-through-kidney-transplant-chain-124.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

A chain has to begin with a donor who has no need other than altruism, and it ends with a recipient who will be eternally grateful. In between are a host of people who do it because they can and it's a good thing to do. Sometimes people are just amazing -- like your son.

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Response to LuckyLib (Reply #45)

Wed Jun 13, 2012, 04:16 PM

49. Amazing!

I have chills. Thank you for the link. Perhaps you could post this as an OP. It is a wonderful story that I'm sure many would love to read.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Wed Jun 13, 2012, 03:33 PM

48. I'm down as an organ donator

when dead, of course (shades of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life/Can We Have Your Liver" scene )

BUT

losing a kidney cuts off 10 years off of the donators life.

(Mind you, my understanding of this is as rote, since that's what I wanted to do & this information was made known to me a couple decades ago so I no longer remember the source -- I THINK my G.P. told me that at the time)

At the risk of sounding like I'm patting myself on the back, I do have to agree your son sounds like a great(& compassionate, & empathetic) kid

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Response to Cherchez la Femme (Reply #48)

Thu Jun 14, 2012, 08:14 AM

55. Life expectancy of kidney donors appears to be similar or perhaps longer than non-donors

http://www.webmd.com/news/20090128/kidney-donors-life-spans-not-shortened

There is definitely more need for follow-up with living donors (of all organs), but the current data suggests the shortened life expectancy is not an issue.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Wed Jun 13, 2012, 04:18 PM

50. As someone with kidney disease, Thank your son for me

I'm getting a little choked up here too

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Wed Jun 13, 2012, 04:50 PM

51. Your son is a wonderful human being but . . .

I strongly feel that the consequences of kidney donation are underemphasized in our society. It's not like donating blood, or even like donating bone marrow. There's a reason we have two kidneys.

I've recently had reason to research the issue of functioning with one kidney, and there are risks. This article from the Chicago Tribune discusses the other side of the story:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-31/health/ct-met-living-donor-risks-20110731_1_living-kidney-donors-united-network-transplantation-network

Now, chances are any particular donor will do fine for many years. But a person needs to go into the process with the understanding that they are not merely donating an organ and some temporary pain and inconvenience. They may be donating the last years of their life and/or their health at a later date.

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Response to Control-Z (Original post)

Wed Jun 13, 2012, 04:52 PM

52. Your son didn't get to be a great man by himself

Congrats to you for doing such a fine job.

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