What if I'm not sure?
Many people are, understandably, afraid of donating, and some experience guilt over not wanting to be a donor. These feelings are common and normal. The decision process is different for each individual: Some make the decision instantly with few worries or concerns. Others go through some soul-searching and talk with family or friends before deciding.
A positive outcome is no less important for a donor than for a recipient, and the decisioin to donate a kidney should not be considered lightly. Anyone contemplating donation should take all the time he or she needs to think it over carefully and ask questions before deciding. Many people find it helpful to ask questions of previous donors. (See Talk with Others.) The National Kidney Foundation has an excellent web site that includes a list of important things to consider in making a decision. (Click on no. 4, "Making the Decision.")
Donor outcome studies show that most living donors report a positive response following donation. However, the decision to donate is an important one, and no one, under any circumstances, should feel pressured to donate. Donating isn’t right for everyone. The only “right” decision—whether for or against donation—is one with which a person is ultimately comfortable.
The evaluation that potential donors go through includes a psychosocial evaluation to make sure there is no pressure to donate, to address concerns, and to provide emotional support. The evaluation provides the donor an opportunity to express concerns more fully than he or she might to a physician or with the recipient or family present. Living-donor coordinators are usually part of a transplant team; part of their job is to address potential donors' concerns throughout the evaluation and donation process.
One Becomes Four: Ed Behn wanted to change the life of someone who needed a kidney. He volunteered to donate to anyone in need and ended up playing the central role in what turned out to be a four-way exchange. He talks about why he donated, tells what it was like for him, and offers good, sound advice for anyone considering "even a remote possibility" of donating. Ed is a simply delightful man who, regardless of your leanings, makes this seven-minute video well worth watching. (Repeat of previous page.) 7:40 To watch a 4-minute video of Ed describing how the 4-way exchange came to be, click here.