Submitted by Susan Matheson (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
I wanted to donate a kidney to a stranger, so I convinced my local hospital to perform an undirected donation.
I read a story in the paper about a local man who donated a kidney to a stranger and began a kidney chain (the person he donated to had a loved one who was willing to donate but was not a medical match, so that person donated to a stranger, who had a loved one who was willing to donate but was not a medical match, etc.) This local man had to fly to California to donate because our hospital did not perform “undirected” or altruistic donations.
After reading the story, I approached the hospital’s kidney transplant program and asked if I could donate. They took my request seriously, they created new donation policies, and they eventually matched me with a local man who had been on dialysis for over four years.
Knowing only those facts about my recipient, as well as his age, I donated a kidney on January 11, 2010. I met him in person on September 21, 2010. To date, the hospital has performed (about) six altruistic kidney donations.