Husband’s one year donation anniversary

Today, March 20th 2013, marks the one year anniversary since my husband saved the lives of several people. He didn’t jump into a burning building, throw himself on a land mine or even wrestle a bear. He just laid there. :)

He donated his kidney to a stranger, setting off a kidney donation chain. The stranger, a lady in her 50s, will now live to see her grandchildren. And her husband who wanted to donate to her, but wasn’t a match, was able, in exchange for my husband’s kidney, to “pay it forward” and give another person a life-saving kidney. And so on.

I created a little PR cartoon to mark the occasion.


Click to enlarge.


#1. What if something happens to your other kidney? Altruistic donors  (people who give to strangers) go to the top of the kidney transplant list if anything goes wrong with their remaining kidney. They are given top priority. They rarely need it. (Says our medical team.)

#2. Will that shorten your life? No. Actually altruistic donors live longer than the average person. (Says our donation coordinator.) Having one or two kidneys doesn’t matter at all. If your kidney is going to go, usually they both go at once, and people who can donate are healthy to begin with. So it’s a lot like saying, “Healthy people live longer than the average person.” And your surgical risk is the same as any other surgery that you would subject yourself to at one point in your life or another. (Our daughter is looking at her seventh surgery later this year for pin removal in her knees. The risk is 0.0032%.)

#3. I would but I don’t want to give up my glass of wine or drinking on my birthday or… you know… my friend Mr. Alcohol. You don’t have to stop drinking, or make any major lifestyle adjustments with one kidney. They did suggest no cage fighting. I shot a look at hubby at that point in the discussion and laughed my head off. But of course binge drinking is bad for you in lots of ways.

#4. But what if someday his kids need a kidney? Well kids don’t wait for kidneys as we learned. Adults do. Kids are at the top of the list. “They’re covered,” said our social worker when we were asking questions. It was the top question on my list even though only one of our children is biologically related to us. It turned out not to be an issue.

#5. What if a family member needed that kidney and you wasted it on a stranger? Waiting for a family member to maybe need a kidney when lots of people are right now dying is like saving your fire extinguisher for a possible home fire while watching your neighbor’s house burn. Actually it’s worse than that because you have a much greater statistical chance of having a fire than ever needing a kidney. There were around 17,000 people who needed a kidney in 2009 and around 362,000 fires (source and source). Let’s put it this way, there are 1,000 cases of lightening striking people a year. (Source.) Say every time lightening struck you, 17 of your neighbors needed kidneys. That’s significant but not a ton of people.  In fact I called up the National Kidney Disease Education Program and was told 1.9% of the population are diagnosed with kidney disease, but of those people the number who will benefit from a donation is even smaller but they do not have the statistic for it.  They sent me to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Dada and Statistics branch at which point I realized I don’t need an exact number for some research paper and was happy to just say on my personal blog “it’s not likely your family will need a kidney that only you can provide.” Let’s speculate that you have less than a 1% chance of needing to save that kidney for a rainy day. Math was a major factor in my husband’s decision to donate.

#6. What did it cost? It was free. Everything from the hospital stay, recovery, doctor’s visits, parking, etc. Hubster’s work even had accommodations for altruistic donors and we didn’t need to dip into his vacation time for recovery.

#7. Any regrets? One. My husband was disappointed that he didn’t have a cool scar. Since it’s a laparoscopic surgery the recovery time is easy and the scarring minimal. They squeeze that little sucker out your belly button so my C-section surgery totally beats up any of my poor husband’s surgery stories. Hubbers went shirtless to a pool party afterwards and no one noticed. But if I lifted up my shirt you would all wonder how all of my guts did not fall out of this giant incision.

Hubby: “My tummy was sore for a while there.” Me: “Oh were you sore? Oh poor thing! Were you unable to climb stairs? Stuck in the hospital for days? BREASTFEEDING??? No?????!”  (Owned.)

#8. I want to help, but isn’t it enough to let them just harvest my organs after I die? They need live donors. Desperately. Becoming a donor after death is wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but to donate your kidney you have to die in a very specific way (I heard a doctor lament, “Can I get a good drowning case?”) and even then the kidney of a deceased person only lasts half as long as a live person. (Source.) A kidney from a live donor, according to Nicholas Crace’s doctor, “performs better, works quicker and lasts longer”. (Source.) Who is Nicholas Crace? He’s an 83 year old altruistic kidney donor. “Within a week I was bicycling and mowing the lawn,” he claims. To which I want to say, “Really?! My husband was playing video games and watching movies!” He was mowing the lawn, hubsters! (Owned again.)

People are suffering and dying and need someone with no benefit to themselves to step forward. Lots and lots of those people actually. And we’d love to help you do it!

2 Responses to “Husband’s one year donation anniversary”

  1. Emily says:

    That is your most disgusting cartoon to date. I’m a little proud. :)

  2. Danielle Cervantes Stephens says:

    This is rad!

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