He had two kidneys, so he gave away one

Dylan Matthews, a writer for Vox news, donated a kidney to someone he didn’t even know.  He’s unusual, but not unique.  He knows at least two other people who’ve done the same thing.

He said he was inspired by his Christian upbringing and the teaching of Jesus, that if you have two coats, you should give one to someone who has done.   He had two kidneys, so he decided to give one to someone who had none.

People who suffer renal failure have only a short time to live, and that involves a painful treatment called kidney dialysis.   A kidney transplant can extend their lives for 10 years or more.

He in fact helped save four people, not just one.   The person who received his kidney had a relative who was willing to donate his kidney, but was not a good match.   So the relative agreed that, if someone else donated a kidney, to donate their kidney to someone else.

The second recipient also had a relative who was willing to donate in an exchange, and so did the third.   So Matthews in all added 40 or more years to the lives of strangers.   That is, they were strangers at the time he made his decision.  Now they have a strong bond.

Dylan Matthews in recovery

The recovery process, which he good-humoredly described, was pretty painful, but lasted only a couple of weeks.  He said statistics indicate that his own life expectancy will not be noticeably affected, and, if he suffers renal failure himself, he’ll be first in line to receive a transplant.

The cost of the transplant is covered by Medicare.  If Medicare were not available, many—maybe most—people with renal failure would die.

Matthews said that he had the satisfaction of knowing, no matter what other decisions he has made in life, he has not lived in vain.  I wish I could say the same for myself.


Why I gave my kidney to a stranger—and why you should consider doing it too by Dylan Matthews for Vox.

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