Share Your Stories

Do you have a story about an act of kindness that you witnessed, performed, or received? Help inspire kindness across our city by sharing it with us below!

3 Responses to Share Your Stories

  1. Kathy Irwin says:

    My radical random act of kindness

    Over the years, I have been fascinated by stories of “good Samaritan” kidney donors, people who choose to donate a kidney to a stranger. I have been intrigued by the idea of donating a kidney and have thought about it from time to time, then stored it in that place where I keep my dreams and hopes until the timing is right.

    I truly believe that we are all in this thing called “life” together and that we must help one another when we can. I think that the measure of my life will be not what I have accumulated or received, but what I have given. I try to live my life according to the Golden Rule, to make kindness my guiding principle.

    A few years ago, after reading yet another story about a person who donated a kidney, I felt that it was time to explore the possibility of becoming a living kidney donor. I still had not known personally of anyone who needed a kidney, so I knew that an anonymous (or non-directed or “good Samaritan”) kidney donation was the option for me. By then I was over 60 and I was concerned that I would not be considered as a potential donor, but I was told that age is not a factor.

    I knew that I needed to find out a lot more than I knew about living kidney donation. I wanted to make sure that my quality of life would not be impacted negatively in a major way by my kidney donation and that my living with one kidney would not significantly shorten my life. As I gathered information from both the Internet and the living kidney donor program at The Ottawa Hospital, I learned that, in fact, living kidney donors have a longer life expectancy than the general population – not because they have donated a kidney but because the donor selection process is extremely rigorous and only people in very good health are accepted as donors. I learned that a person can live very well with only one kidney. In fact, when a person is in kidney failure, only one kidney is transplanted, not two. I learned that most – not all, but most – kidney disease is bilateral; both kidneys are affected at the same time. I didn’t feel the need to keep both kidneys in case one malfunctioned. I concluded that I could live well and for a long time with the remaining kidney.

    I began to speak to family and friends about my plan. The reactions were varied: Most people, including my sons, were supportive, although concerned for my well-being. Some were supportive at first then came to think that I was very foolish to consider undergoing major surgery when nothing was wrong with me. Some people thought I was out of my mind. Some people did not agree with what I planned to do and, to this day, think I took an unnecessary risk. I asked my sons to have their kidney functions tested, to make sure that neither of them had some latent disease that might require a transplant. In any case, even if one of them had needed a transplant, there was no guarantee that I would have been a compatible donor. They were both declared healthy.

    From my very first contact with the living kidney donor team, I was told that I could back out at any point, up to and including the day of surgery. This was reiterated many times and I felt completely at liberty to change my mind if I chose to do so.

    The work-up for potential kidney donors is very thorough and lengthy. It seeks to determine that the person is in excellent physical health and has no physical contraindications to donating – such as discovering, as is sometimes the case, that she has only one kidney. The process is also intended to determine the potential donor’s psychological health and support system. During the months of the work-up, I continued to gather information. I learned that a transplant from a living kidney donor is preferable to that from a person who has passed away. A kidney from a living donor starts working sooner, it functions better and it lasts longer. Also, with a living donor surgery can be planned at a time when the recipient is in good health. I heard of an 83-year-old British man who donated a kidney and was cycling two weeks later. I discovered a group in Great Britain that promotes living kidney donation: Give a Kidney, One’s Enough. I knew that if I was accepted that meant I was in excellent health.

    I occasionally found those months interminable, but I appreciated the fact that I had many opportunities to reflect on my wish to donate a kidney to a stranger. After each test indicated that I was still a potential donor, I would take the time to reconsider my decision and recommit to becoming a kidney donor. I was ecstatic the day I was told that I had been accepted as a kidney donor.

    Surgery went very well and I left hospital three days later. At each follow-up appointment with the medical team, all my test results including those related to my kidney functions were those of a person with two kidneys. Before my one-year follow-up appointment, I asked that the team find out how the recipient was doing, including if the person had died. I would of course have been saddened by the death, but I would have known that the new kidney might have allowed the person to attend an important graduation, see their first grandchild or maybe get married. I was told that the person who received my kidney is doing extremely well. I was thrilled that my donation had given someone a second chance at life.

    I know that my decision was the right one for me. These few years later, I continue to feel immense joy knowing that I helped someone escape an early death and “get their life back”. I feel very well. I am very grateful that I was in such good health that I could donate a kidney to someone who needed it and I am proud that I pursued my goal to the end.

    • kindnessweek says:

      Wow Kathy, what an amazing story! You are a truly wonderful representation of kindness in our city. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Lyn says:

    Everyone in Ottawa can show kindness by simply registering to be an organ and tissue donor at http://www.beadonor.ca – Ottawa has a registration rate of 30% but we can do much better! There are over 1500 people in Ontario waiting for a transplant. By registering, you give them hope! Don’t take your organs to heaven, cause heaven knows we need them here!

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