IF A family member or friend were to fall ill, most of us would do everything and anything in our power to help the affected person. It’s in our nature to protect and care for our loved ones. In fact many of us are more than willing to come to the aid of people we don’t even know.
There are many different ways that we can help strangers. Running a marathon to raise money for a charity is one, giving a homeless beggar in the street your spare change is another. It could even be something as modest as helping an old age pensioner to cross a busy road.
These are all acts of altruism, the sort of actions that generous and kind people do on a daily basis. Some people’s acts of kindness may be far more significant than others and have a larger impact on people’s lives, but essentially each act is created by the same motive – the desire to support someone or a group of people who need help.
One such act of philanthropy, which is on the increase and goes far beyond the call of duty, is that of organ donation. Before 2006, it was actually against the law for living donors to donate organs to anyone other than family or friends. However, since organ donations were made legal between strangers, the number of donors has continued to increase.
In 2012, there were 104 donations between people who didn’t know each other; a significant rise from 38 in 2011. Of these transplants, 103 involved the giving of a kidney to someone who desperately needed it. With over 6,500 people on the NHS waiting list for a new kidney this may seem like a small figure, but it has to be applauded that 103 people have risked their own lives to save someone they will more than likely never meet. Especially if you take it into account that it’s against the rules for donors to contact the recipient of the organ. Although many grateful people whose lives have been improved by having a successful transplant, send an anonymous letter thanking their donor.
I believe organ donation is absolutely vital, and if I were to die suddenly I would sincerely hope my organs were put to use and saved the life of someone else.
But while I’m in the land of the living, I just don’t honestly think I’m the kind of person who could donate an organ to a complete stranger.
I’d say I’m a pretty benevolent kind of guy, with a real appreciation of life and peoples’ struggles. And over the years I like to think that my desire to help those less fortunate than myself has strengthened.
Yet when I learned of people who have risked their own health to save complete strangers who they will never meet, I felt a bit ashamed. Okay, so I’ll always do what I feel I can to help folk around me, but many others are pushing the boundaries much further than I’d be able to.
Organ donors are ensuring that many people who wouldn’t normally stand a chance are not only surviving, but living a life they could never have imagined – and it’s all down to the supreme kindness these living donors.
The world is full of negative, gloomy news much of the time, but if these remarkable people don’t restore your faith in humanity, no-one will. Risking everything for nothing more than the satisfaction of having helped another human being is truly selfless.
There aren’t words to describe how generous an act it is to donate an organ to a complete stranger, and I take my hat off to these amazing people.