Without your kidney as a transplant, someone close to you will die within one month. The odds that you will survive the operation are only 50 percent, but should you survive you would be certain of a normal life expectancy. Would you consent to the operation?
Uh… How close are we talking? If it’s a family member, are we talking about a sister? First cousin? Great uncle that I see once every five years? If it’s a friend, are we talking about the guy who could be the best man in my wedding should I ever get married? Someone that I see and enjoy hanging out with multiple times per week? A Facebook friend who assumes we’re still close but really hasn’t seen or spoken to me in 15 years?
Not to be selfish, but with a 50% chance that I’m not gonna make it through the procedure, it’s gotta be someone that I’m really close to. It’s gotta be someone that I really don’t want to see die in a month. That sounds horrible. I don’t want to see anyone die in a month. But, let’s be honest, some deaths affect us more than others. If holding back a kidney means saying goodbye to someone whose absence would change my life, then yes, I would give away the kidney. Screw the consequences. If it’s someone with whom I haven’t spoken in 15 years, sorry. There’s gotta be someone closer to them in their life who’s willing to go under the knife for them.
I actually have no knowledge as to whether that last statement is true or not. I don’t know what the odds are of finding a perfect match between people who need organs and those willing to donate them. On the plus side, if I were to go through with the transplant and I lost the survival coin toss, I’m an organ donor. So everything else I have is good to give away once I’m gone.
*The Question of the Week can be found in The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.