Giving living organ donation a bad name…

So, when I woke up this morning and checked email and Facebook, I had received a message and a link to a story about a woman who gave her boss a kidney and was subsequently fired from her job.  See link:  Now, I know a thing or two about donating a kidney to one’s boss…  First, I would venture to guess that there is a lot to the story that hasn’t come to light.  Things just don’t add up…  but really my concern is that this press/publicity will give living organ donation a bad rap.   For example, when the story was aired on CNN, the advice the reporter gave at the end – hold onto your organs.  Nice..  And I could understand such things if this boss turns out to be some vile, malicious excuse for a human who took advantage of a subordinate to gain life.  But, we don’t know that. Do we? 

So, this blog is from the perspective a living kidney donor who gave her kidney to her now former boss.  I feel blessed.  It’s funny though that this gift of life keeps giving.  In a much earlier post, I think I wrote about how one of the major annoyances in the whole giving a kidney to your boss scenario was dealing with our company’s legal and HR folks.  Holy Moly did today’s story make me glad for that annoyance.  WellPoint did a great thing in making sure I was protected (of course they were too….) and not being coerced into my decision.  Have there been naysayers in the system?  Yep – dumb comments like – wow, that’s job security… or that gives new meaning to brown noser.  Screw those people (excuse my frankness).   But overall, in the actual surgery, my recovery, my life now with one kidney – is just full of blessings.  

From comments posted on Facebook and elsewhere about today’s story, most people seem to be assuming the recipient is evil. And she may be.  But, I read the article with skepticism.  I’ve been through the donation screening process and I really wonder not only about the mental stability and capacity of the donor, but specifically of her intentions.  The donation process involves a lot of hard questions and hypothetical prodding of what if’s to challenge the donor and ensure he/she can deal with things like: what happens if the recipient rejects?   Will you blame yourself?  Will you regret donating if it doesn’t work?  You are getting a lot of positive attention right now – post-donation, attention shifts to the recipient.  Are you doing this for attention?  How will you feel when attention shifts?    I’d like to ask the donor – what did you expect related to professional treatment?  Was your employer aware of the donation and did they work with you to ensure you weren’t coerced?  If your boss treated you poorly – why did you donate in the 1st place?  Did you expect her behavior to change?  And probably many more – I’m fascinated by this.

Anyway, I’m eager to learn more as the story unfolds and I’m sure it will be interesting.  I no longer report to Lisa.  Is it because of the kidney?  No.  Did Lisa and I get along at all times and have no problems in the boss/subordinate & recipient/donor role scenario? No.  (sidebar – the health insurance industry is a bit stressful right now…)  But never have our disagreements been about the kidney.  Never have I expected or wanted different treatment at work because I donated a kidney.  I did what I did so the dynamic duo of Sophie and Daniel could grow up with their mom who wanted them so badly.   If Lisa had fired me – would I want to blame someone?  Absolutely – but that’s not because I’m a kidney donor – it’s because I’m human.  We don’t like to find fault with ourselves. 

Quick – 18 month post-donation update.  I’m alive and still opinionated.  I continue to try to get my weight down to a normal BMI – but like food more than exercise.  I feel absolutely terrific though.  I continue to work with a personal trainer and have recently started taking a Russian Kettlebell class – love it!  I’m running a 10k in 2 weeks.  I don’t have to have labwork until 2 years post-donation.  But do have a lab order should I feel like finding time to get my blood drawn.  My blood pressure was 110/80 at last check and that is awesome!  Wahoo!  All animals are well.  And I’m meeting a lot of new people lately through meet-ups and have been dating quite a bit.  I struggle with telling dates about being a living kidney donor.  Still seems a bit odd – oh you want to know something unique about me?  I give away my body organs….  Happy Spring! 


One thought on “Giving living organ donation a bad name…

  1. Thanks, Sarah, right on! You said it so well. The media are usually looking only for the headline.
    Dennis Wentz

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