Why I Donated My Kidney

by Lisa

I have never been able to resist a bargain, whether it’s a great apartment that only exists on paper or 3 cans of green beans for the price of two. A bargain is something in which you get more than you give. So when I read about an appeal for a kidney, donor blood group B, I immediately knew that it was my kind of bargain.

In exchange for a little inconvenience and discomfort, I could help keep a person alive, give a husband back to his wife, a father back to his children and a son back to his parents – not to mention a loving grandfather back to his grandchildren.

The benefits did not stop there. I got to perform the mitzvah of loving my fellow Jew as myself, and of saving a life which is equivalent to saving the world. I got to perform an act of “baseless love,” a necessary prerequisite to building the Beit HaMikdash. I got to be a person that my family is proud of. Most of all, I got to discover that I was the person I always hoped I was.

So what did my side of the bargain entail? A blood test, to start with, for tissue-typing. Then, an interview with a psychologist and one with a social worker, to explain my motives. This was followed by psychological testing which included a Rorschach Test, draw-a-house, draw-a-tree, reproduce drawings from memory. (Did they want to know if I was crazy enough to do this?) Following this, I was interviewed by a panel from the Health Ministry to explain myself once again and to assure them that there was no monetary motive for my donation.

On the physical side, I underwent blood and urine tests, a stress test, an EKG, an echo test, mammogram, ultrasound and CAT scan and many blood-pressure checks. By the time I finished, I felt like I must be the healthiest person in the world. My gratitude to HaKodesh Baruch Hu for this knew no bounds and was only an additional impetus to my donating.

The day before the operation, Sunday, I went into the hospital – more blood tests and blood-pressure readings. Toward evening, I was told to shower and wash my midsection very well. A nurse came in and marked the spot on my left side where my kidney would be taken out. The next day, I stopped eating for 6 hours before the operation, which was scheduled for 3:00 pm. At that time, they gave me a sedative shot and took me down to the operating theater waiting room, where I waited for about 15 minutes. I was then taken to the operating room. Seconds later, I was under anesthesia and knew nothing else until I woke up about 4 hours later.

While it was hard to move around the first day, it was no worse than the two Caesareans I had when I gave birth to two of my children (more bargains!), with the consolation that I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night!

I was released on Thursday and back in shul on Shabbat. It is now nearly 5 months later, and a distant memory. I feel like a normal, two-kidneyed person. My recipient is coming along nicely. I have no regrets and would do it again if I could.