I found a nice quote of unknown origin online today: “Life is an echo. What you send out comes back.” It’s reminiscent of the less elegant saying “what goes around comes around,” or the Mother Goose-y idiom “one good turn deserves another.” All worthy (but probably woefully inadequate) ways of putting into mere words the glorious sentiment that eight people are feeling today at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia, which just conducted a four-way kidney swap, the state’s largest in history.
Good samaritan Anthony DeGiulio got the idea to donate a kidney altruistically after watching a TV program. His kidney went to a stranger to him named Barbara, whose husband had wanted to offer his own kidney but wasn’t a match for her. But the husband was a match for someone else who was needing a kidney, a young woman he’d never met named Alina, whose father had been willing to give her his kidney but wasn’t a match. The father was a match for a guy named Andrew, though… and the swap went on, ultimately involving 50 clinicians at once and saving the lives of four and connecting the souls of all eight forever.
An article in the New York Daily News yesterday wrapped up with these three great paragraphs, the last of which features a comment by the gracious man who sparked the chain in motion, Anthony. It’s a quote that sounds to me much more lovely (and much more personal) than any of the ones at the top of this post.
The [donor organ] swaps, also known as paired exchanges, have been responsible for 373 kidney transplants in the U.S., the United Network for Organ Sharing said.
Doctors at Johns Hopkins University performed a six-way exchange in April. They believe that a national registry of living kidney donors – including those willing to donate to strangers – could result in 6,000 transplants a year.
Some of his friends and family thought DeGiulio was “nuts” to donate his kidney, he said. “I wish it was more common,” he noted. “I sacrificed three days of my life, and this woman gets her life back. If I could feel like this every day, I’d do it any day of the week.”
My thanks to Tom Simon, who called my attention to this event and who serves as a shining source of inspiration to good samaritan donors like Anthony, his three “swap mates,” and the thousands of altruistic donors who give the gift of life so freely strangers in need.