Donating a kidney was never on my list of things to do. After all, I was the person who endlessly procrastinated on doctors’ visits; I fretted over routine checkups. But about two years ago, much to my own surprise, I became a kidney donor.
Several months after the birth of my son, my wife’s first cousins welcomed a little boy of their own. Their son, however, was born in poor health. A year or two later, his parents began seeking a kidney for him; unfortunately, the search was difficult and fruitless due to his uncommon blood type.
I did not consider donating; it was never on my radar. But on a rare visit to the doctor, I asked him what my blood type was – I didn’t even know my own blood type! – and was shocked to discover that it was the same type as our young relative. I took that as a sign from Above and went for further testing. All tests showed that I was a good match, but my kidney was a tad too large for his small body.
Undeterred, Renewal initiated a complicated kidney swap. In a typical swap, a donor gives a kidney to a third party contingent on a specific person – a friend or relative – receiving a kidney in an exchange of sorts. This swap turned out to be more complex, involving approximately 15 donor/recipient pairs throughout the United States, but that little boy got his kidney; the transplants took place simultaneously.
I don’t know the identity of my direct recipient; I don’t want to know. I see myself as the donor of my cousin’s kidney. It is incredibly poignant to watch him grow and thrive, learn to walk and talk, and go off to school like any other child – it’s like seeing my own child grow up. I had never thought that I’d be a kidney donor…but now that I did, I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner!