The people in need of kidneys
On top of that, even the people in need of kidneys are often made to feel that they are ‘begging’ if they actively seek help from someone to save their life. Some people have been known to die without even telling their closest friends and relatives that they needed a donor.
It’s true that donating donate a kidney a kidney to save a life is not everyone’s cup of tea. But there are many people, like ourselves, who would be thrilled just to know that they could make such a difference with their life. I spoke to a group of elderly people at a nursing home about live organ donation and was flooded with requests for information on how they could donate. (Unfortunately, these people were all too old to be able to donate themselves, but I urged them to tell their children and grandchildren about it.)
There are even some rare cases of relatives of donors speaking out against organ donations (usually because of complications or poor hospital procedures which their relative experienced). The media welcomes such people with open arms, thus giving the public the impression that all donations end up that way. (And surprisingly, it is rarely the donor themselves that complains or features in the media reports, because most donors had already allowed for the possibility that things could have gone wrong. They are obviously disappointed, but many say that they would do it all again if they could.)
When the media chooses to do something positive on family members who donate, they rarely touch on the subject of someone being able to donate even if they don’t have a relative in need. Some who have given to a close friend or relative have expressed the feeling that what they did is okay, but that anyone who gives to a stranger is going too far or may be just a little crazy. Media reports which put donors up on a pedestal without explaining how easy it would be for others to do the same thing, have the overall effect of making the general public feel that what has been done is unrealistic for ‘normal’ human beings.
I feel that it is the responsibility of those of us who have donated to stop all the flattery and to let people know the truth… that what we did is no big deal… at least not by comparison to the life and death battle that has been going on, often for many years, in the lives of the recipients. Others could do the same thing, and others would do the same thing if only they knew about it. Not everyone perhaps, but enough to solve the shortage of kidneys.