Hazel McHaffie

Give a kidney – one’s enough

The kindness of strangers

After last week’s blog kindness has been very much in my mind. So today’s topic is a kind of extension of that thinking.

I want to start with a topical challenge for you: Would you voluntarily donate a kidney to a complete stranger? Think carefully about that before you read on. Would you?

My current book is about organ transplantation so this issue has been an onging preoccupation for me for most of this year. But it’s topical right now because a new charity has just been launched (on 1st of this month) called Give a Kidney – One’s Enough. Explicit enough, huh? But just in case there’s a lingering suspicion – it aims to raise awareness of live-kidney donation. The altruistic kind. Two of the charity’s steering group are themselves donors: Brian Burns-Cox, a physician, and Annabel Ferriman, a medical journalist. The others are professionals working in the field of kidney transplant. So it comes with excellent credentials.

During the past four years since legislation was changed to allow living donations to non-relatives, almost 90 people have come forward to do so. Humbling and inspiring, isn’t it? I mean, you can understand somebody doing it for a loved one, but for a complete stranger?

Would I? Hmmm.

Would you?

And yet these donations transform lives. And that’s the motivation of this small band of amazing people. They know the burden of dialysis – a burden carried by 6,500 people right now. And that untreated, 300 will die every year if they don’t receive a kidney.  And they care enough to go through surgery and bear the potential consequences.

They deserve our sincere gratitude and admiration. Far, far more, in my opinion, that the sportspeople or pop stars who are constantly lauded in the media and who ‘win’ knighthoods and OBEs.

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