Published: July 12th 2012July 11th 2012
I've been debating writing this blog, as it is not a typical blog. Neither is it really about traveling, although I guess in some ways its a unique experience about common struggles regardless of national borders.
First, before I jump into this story, I must first explain to those of you who don't know me why this story has affected me so greatly. 2 and a half months ago I donated my kidney to a childhood friend. She was only about 21 when she was diagnosed with FSGS, a rare kidney disease. She was on dialysis for 4 years before she recieved my kidney at the age of 26. Fortunately, she's now doing wonderfully and I of course have healed up well enough to travel internationally. Her story thus far has a very very happy ending.
Prior to donating my kidney to her, I had hardly heard much of kidney disease or the discussion of organ donation. Now, organ donation is a topic of national discussion in the US. Now in Lebanon I am touched by the impact of kidney disease and the need for organ donors.
Last week, we visited Derya, Joanna's village in the northern mountains one evening. Joanna, Joelle and I went to a small "restaurant" to just hang out. The woman who owned the place is a friend of the family and we (meaning Joelle and Joanna and sometimes the conversations were translated for me) visited with her and one of her sons. She said that day that her 16 year old wasn't feeling very well. The next day, he went to the hospital and we recieved news that he was in kidney failure and they started him on dialysis.
Knowing what Raj and her family went through while she waited for a kidney, my heart goes out to this boy and his family. In discussions with Joanna, she said not very many people in Lebanon donate organs. The National Organization for Organ & Tissue Donation & Transplantation
for Lebanon reiterated the same on their website. This means, unless one of his family members is able to give, the chances of him receiving a kidney are small. I really hope that a family member will be a match and be willing and able to give.
Through discussions about the unfortunate diagnosis and then the explanation that I hd just recently donated, another friend of the family shared that her father had needed a kidney some years ago. There was no familial kidney to receive and none seemed to present itself while he waited ont he waiting list. He purchased a kidney for $30,000 (a practice that is uncommon, but does occur here). In a country were a middle class family only makes about $800/month, this is a lot of money which doesn't even include the medical expenses of the surgeries and the post-op treatments.
I think these stories have touched me more because of my recent experience with kidney donation and knowing what Raj went through with her disease. She too, could have run out of time waiting for a kidney had it not been for my donation. It doesn't matter which country you are from, donating organs can save lives. If you are reading this, I urge you to find out about becoming an organ donor in your own country, either upon your death or possibly even as a live donor. Who knows who's life you have the power to save.
Again, my best wishes are with the boy and his family. I hope his story will end up having a happy ending.
As and aside note: I apologize if this blog offends any of you here on ths site as it is a Travelblog and this blog is not about sight seeing or other common travel stories. I felt the need to post this as this issue presented itself to me not only in the US, but also during my travels.