“Would be a big help if you could plug NKDO in your social media posts to raise some awareness for the cause.”
“Are you kidding? That’s the least I could do.”
So, here I am.
Friends who know me well know that I do not wear my emotions on my sleeve. And not many may know that I reserve them for my private moments. But this story is not about me. It’s about a friend and I just want to play a very small role in his heroic tale, by simply documenting it, because his journey brought out some emotions in me, which I am better off writing about than talking about.
A Friend’s Burden
In the tapestry of life, intertwined with threads of friendship, there exists a bond so deep and unbreakable that it defies words. A few months ago, within this sacred realm, a story of courage, love, and sacrifice unfolded. Amongst a circle of close friends I am fortunate to be part of, there is a friend who embodies these qualities in the most profound way.
I mean…Even those who are not from that close circle of friends know what he is capable of and how generous he is. His name, has always evoked emotions of admiration and gratitude, but after this particular day and this particular act, his name would forever evoke emotions that will play with me and taunt me.
For it was he who announced that he was going to embark on a journey of selflessness that would forever change us all.
Whispers of Concern
One beautiful day, as the sun cast its golden hues upon our gathering on our WhatsApp group, the usual banters were overshadowed by a topic of great concern. Our dear friend revealed a secret burden he had been carrying silently, one that quite understandably left us speechless and filled us all with worry. He shared with us about his decision to donate his kidney, an act of unparalleled kindness that would offer a lifeline to an unknown recipient in desperate need.
Had we all been physically present in a single room when he shared this decision, I am sure the room would have fallen into hushed contemplation, each of us grappling with a range of emotions — admiration, anxiety, and a touch of fear. But since this happened virtually and asynchronously, I could not see the immediate reactions on my other friends’ faces. But then, I did not have to. It would have been very similar.
Some of us reacted and responded immediately showing our support. And some stayed silent for a bit before offering encouraging words. But behind those words, all of us questioned the implications of such a choice, not just on him, but on his family, the risks involved, and the potentially deep impact it would have on our friend’s quality of life. Yet, beneath it all, I could sense that there was an overwhelming sense of pride among the rest of us, which we didn’t have to share with each other, for we knew this act was a testament to the strength of his character and the depths of his compassion. To sum it up, it was not surprising that he would be the one who would make the decision first amongst us to become a “living organ donor”.
A Not-so-much-shared Journey
As the days passed, we talked to one another, in smaller groups, to the friend individually, and tried to absorb the seriousness of this all very slowly. And during this entire time, we stood by our friend’s side, offering support and understanding as he navigated the intricate path of organ donation. In hindsight, I wish this journey was more shared than it turned out to be given the geographical distribution of our everyday lives. We did not witness the myriad of tests, consultations, and deliberations that paved the way to the operating room. The gravity of his decision continued to weigh heavily upon us, as we grappled with our own fears and hopes for a successful outcome.
Amidst the air of anticipation and apprehension, we found solace in each other’s presence, a united front of unwavering support. We recognized the magnitude of this journey and understood that our friend’s choice extended far beyond the boundaries of his own existence and our friendship. It was a testament to the power of empathy, reminding us of the capacity within each of us to make a lasting impact on the lives of others. We were also taking solace in the fact it was another friend from this close circle of friends who was with him on the day of his surgery. All of us were restless that morning. It was only after the other friend let us all know that the surgery went as planned and the friend was doing fine post-surgery, we were relieved.
The Power of Anonymity
While my friend’s act remained hidden from the recipient, it radiated a profound impact on the lives of those around them. Witnessing his unwavering dedication to saving a life filled our hearts with awe and inspired us to reflect upon our own capacity for compassion. His choice of anonymity emphasized that the act of organ donation transcends personal recognition and highlights the sheer power of one human being’s ability to transform the destiny of another.
The Urgent Need
In a world where countless individuals languish on organ transplant waiting lists, the need for donors is dire. Every day, lives slip away, dreams fade, and hopes diminish as the scarcity of available organs continues to persist. In the United States alone, more than 100,000 individuals anxiously await the gift of life, their futures hanging in the balance. The statistics reveal a harsh reality: approximately 17 people pass away each day in the USA due to the shortage of organs or awaiting lifesaving transplant.
Embracing Hope through Organizations like NKDO
Kidneys are the most sought-after organ in the United States, and according to Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network data, about 85% of the national transplant waiting list is made up of people in need of one. Organizations like the National Kidney Donation Organization (NKDO) play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between those in need and those willing to help. By raising awareness, educating the public, and facilitating organ donation, the NKDO shines a light amidst the darkness, offering hope to those grappling with the fragility of their existence. They stand as a guiding force, urging individuals to consider becoming an anonymous hero, igniting a spark that has the power to transcend lifetimes. And once you decide to become a living kidney donor, they are with you every step of the way, providing support and guidance, alleviating whatever fear that may grapple you as the day approaches.
Joining the Ranks of Unsung Heroes
Within each of us lies the potential to become an unsung hero. I have personally witnessed the journey of a remarkable individual whom I am proud to call my friend. And I believe that by following the footsteps of individuals like him, we can make an immeasurable impact on the lives of those who yearn for a second chance. When you become a living kidney donor, your altruism will offer a glimmer of hope to a stranger who may one day receive the gift of life. And in return, should you ever find yourself in need of a kidney transplant in future, you automatically move up to the top of the waiting list of recipients.
A Ripple of Compassion
The reverberations of anonymous organ donation extend beyond the immediate recipients. They touch the hearts of families, friends, and even those who are unaware of the life-saving act taking place in their midst. Through awareness and sharing stories like this, I hope we can create a ripple of compassion, encouraging others to consider organ donation and amplifying the impact of each selfless act.
We too have an opportunity to write a chapter for ourselves in the “The Legacy of Unseen”.