I can imagine nothing more noble than offering to donate a kidney to a loved one, or even a perfect stranger.
There's no more selfless, courageous gift than to donate a kidney, one's own organ, to someone needing a transplant.
And it's that very position that I've found myself pondering in recent months.
The truth is, I've had offers from family members, but I've outright declined them. It's not that I don't fully respect their offers or cherish such loving generosity. It's merely the idea that I would feel uncomfortable accepting such a gift of life from someone I know.
Call me weird.
I got on the transplant lists early, before dialysis was necessary, so that I would not feel the motivation to accept a kidney from a loved one. If I end up on dialysis I might change my mind, but I don't think so. Even though kidney donations are considered to be safe procedures for donors, I don't want to require a loved one to undergo surgery on my behalf, even if they are willing and able.
And while I will do everything in my power, including following all the rules and taking all medications and getting all required tests to avoid organ rejection, I would feel absolutely like a failure if that kidney from a living donor I know and love were to fail.
So I've decided after considerable thought to sit on the transplant lists for a kidney or kidney -pancreas transplants, even if takes four years. UPMC officials stress that a kidney from a living donor maximizes the possibility of success. I understand that. It's obvious why such transplants are more successful: The kidney is removed and immediately placed in the recipient's body. There's very little down time.
I'm aware that I've reduced my options.
I know I face a long wait.
But when it comes down to it, I would never feel comfortable taking a live person's kidney.