On January 14th I donated my left kidney to someone I never met. This started a chain reaction that allowed three people receive life-saving kidneys.

Wall of text optional.


To start the process I just called up OSU transplant office and said I’d like to do a non-directed kidney donation. They sent me a booklet then we arranged a day to meet the donor coordinator, surgeon, donor’s advocate, and a social worker who was there to make sure I was emotionally and financially ready for this. Then there were the blood tests, and the 24 hour urine collection, and a 24 hour blood pressure monitor, and more urine samples, and a CT scan and an EKG. Once all the results came back with green lights we setup up a convenient date.

I spent the night before surgery in the hospital getting fluids. The actual surgery took two hours. It was a hand-assisted laparoscopic procedure designed to speed recovery time. I hear that people usually underestimate the pain of the surgery, but with the help of my morphine button it was miserable, but bearable. They had me walking down the halls the next day and I was back in my apartment the day after that. The pain meds made me nauseous and constipated. The CO2 bubbles left in me made it hard to be comfortable and seep through the night. It was thoroughly miserable, but at no point did I wish I hadn’t done it. Now a week later I’m recovered but not quite ready to spend long stretches on my feet so I’m working from home.

Humans only need one kidney and my life after recovery will be exactly the same as it would be otherwise with no increased risk of anything and the same life expectancy. The only change is that I can’t take any pain pill that says ‘NSAID’ on it and that I shouldn’t take up boxing or any activity that has a high risk of kidney injury.

Now my new goal is to get my friends to donate their kidneys. Before I list the reasons you should do this, let me set the mood with two short stories.

Story 1:

There was a man who planned a vacation that would cost him $4000. Before he was about to leave his boss said that he was needed in the office last minute and that a $6000 bonus would be offered for him to cancel his vacation and stay at work. Assuming he could get his plane tickets and hotel refunded, how much does the vacation now really cost him if he chooses to go?

Story 2:

There were 2 elderly men in nursing home beds. The first was positioned so that he could see out the only window. He would spend the day telling the second man what was happening outside the building to entertain him. So the two sat for days with images of children flying kites and dogs playing fetch. Soon the second man became jealous of the first’s privileged position. One night the first man started seizing. The second man grabbed the button to call the nurse, but decided not to press it. The first man died that night and was removed from the nursing home. Then second man asked to be moved across the room so that he can see out the window. Looking out for the first time he finds that it faces only a brick wall. This man did not kill anyone. He only allowed someone to die when he could’ve saved them.


 If you don’t, someone will have to live a short miserable life on dialysis.
It’s not that big of a deal.  I think that the reason we have 100,000 people waiting for a kidney in this country that has roughly twice as many kidneys as it needs is that people think that donating a kidney is a big deal.  But to put it in perspective:
    If you are willing give birth you’re ok with this level of risk.
    If you are willing to drink till you’re really hung over you’re ok with the nausea.
    If you are willing to donate blood you’re ok with giving away your tissue to strangers.
    If you’ve ever broken a bone and then are willing to try playing that sport again then you’re ok with the pain. 
    If you can take 2 weeks off work you’re ok with the time commitment. 
And for the Christians on reddit: Jesus got himself crucified on your account.  He then said to love others “as I have loved you”.  Post-op is not as bad as crucifixion.  You owe him.
"If you have two cloaks, give to the man who has none" Luke 3:11
"That which you do for the least of these you do for me" Matthew 25:40
 I could list more verses, but I’m fairly convinced that absolutely any gospel passage could be used to prove my point so it would really be easier to just link you to the whole thing: http://bit.ly/LUmD6u.
 More altruistic kidney donation stories: http://dailym.ai/1hjtQ9Y  http://bit.ly/1hjtTTs http://bit.ly/1inqh6s

Feel free to ask questions Proof http://imgur.com/CHtY39q

EDIT It was noted in several comments that I made too light of the fact that I couldn't take NSAIDs. NSAIDs are very common class of painkiller that includes most OTC painkillers that aren't Tylenol based. For someone who uses these meds or is at risk of using them this is a huge drawback. I myself have a family history of Arthritis and was duly warned that most arthritis meds are NSAIDs.

Comments: 560 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

BonelessHam119 karma

Did your insurance cover any of the procedure? What did you have to pay out of pocket (if any)?

hackthat48 karma

No. It's all billed to the recipient's insurance. There were some stories of donors being denied life insurance but my transplant office says they usually can convince the insurance companies that donors aren't a risk.

Make sure to donate at a good hospital if you can. I only had good experience at OSU.

EndlessOcean85 karma

wait... the good kidney, or the evil kidney?

hackthat15 karma


HumanSpecimen70 karma

Thank you for sharing your story. My first transplant started failing last year after 5+ years and I had to start back dialysis earlier this year. I go to dialysis 3 times a week (MWF) for 4 hours each time. It's not that it's just 4 hours, but it's the time to leave work and the time I feel defeated the rest of the evening.

At the moment, I'm struggling with why this happened to me. I was on dialysis for 2.5 years when a family friend first donated to me. I work hard and I work full-time, so it has been difficult getting acclimated to my dialysis schedule. Also, as a Christian, I would like to say thanks for sharing the verses and your story/testimony. Thank you for taking action and setting an example to others and getting the word out.

hackthat26 karma

I'm sorry to hear that. I hope you pull through and get another kidney.

guaydl49 karma

Firstly, you are an amazing individual. Doing something so significant for a stranger is awe inspiring. My question for you is this...
Although your life expectancy is unchanged, do you not fear an injury or ailment that puts you into the subset of individuals on the kidney transplant list? I for one see the initial benefit, but I'm worried abut the possible long term repercussions.

hackthat211 karma

Perks of donating a kidney: You get put right at the top of the recipient list if you ever need a new kidney.

hackthat8 karma

Since everyone is asking, I am not 100% sure that this is true for every transplant center. Only for OSU.

SouthernMurse49 karma

I worked in renal transplant for a spell. The number of altruistic kidney donors is impressive. You're not alone, and generally people give it up for the same reasons you've listed. Occasionally someone would just say it felt right to give what they could to help someone in need. Thanks for helping multiple people in need and for doing the AMA to get word out that this is available for people who feel led to help others on a different level

need2make_another_me41 karma

I find this a much better way to explain the benefit than the schlocky, condescending and moralizing way OP put it. As an atheist who's never been drunk, pregnant, missed work, nor broken a bone, this post almost convinced me I shouldn't bother.

Zwiebelfranz32 karma

I have to agree, while I truly admire what OP did and have a lot of respect for what he went through, I found the moralizing tone of the post extremely off-putting...

popcorntopping6 karma

Ya, I didn't expect the hard sell/guilt trip.

hackthat15 karma

Ya, sorry. You might be right.

I don't do this kind of thing in person. But the reasons I listed were the actual reasons I decided to donate. There are a lot of feel-good "it felt like the right thing to do" stories out there. And different things appeal to different people. I wanted this to exist somewhere on the internet though. Because even if it makes me sound like a moralizing ass hole, I still think it's true.

dirtyspoonbrc34 karma

What's the point of story 1?

hackthat20 karma

The point of the first story is to get you to buy into the idea of opportunity cost. ie: what you don't do matters. The second story shows that this has moral implications. I wanted the reader to buy into the idea that killing someone and not saving them were equivalent. Did I do a good job? Maybe not.

steve118659 karma

While I see the principle of the story, I don't think killing someone is equivalent to not saving someone. Putting the ball in motion isn't the same as not stopping the ball once it's already rolling

ScenesfromaCat58 karma

Also I think there's a big fuckin difference between not pressing a button to save someones life and not giving a stranger my god damn kidney. Can't take NSAIDs? Every pain killer in my house is an NSAID. I registered to be an organ donor. It says it right on my driver's license. When I'm dead they can take my kidneys, corneas, liver, lungs, heart, IDGAF. But while I'm alive? Heck no I'm using those things.

hackthat5 karma

Ya, maybe I glossed over how important NSAIDS can be. I don't take any pain killers now, but I have a family history of arthritus (treatment usually includes NSAIDS). This might come back to bite me, but I still think it's worth it.

hackthat4 karma

I think most moral philosophers agree with you. But I can't think of a convincing reason why that's not the case.

Rhapsody_In_Black23 karma

You. Are a very nice person. Bless ya

hackthat3 karma

thanks :)

merganzer16 karma

That's great that you did that. It's not something that I would consider until I know I'm done having children, but I'll keep in mind for the future.

Did you have to pay for your medical costs throughout?

Also, you might consider editing your proof so that it doesn't show your personal information.

hackthat10 karma

I thought about editing it but I don't think I mind having my name on this.

And no I didn't have to pay any out of pocket costs. It all gets billed to the recipient's insurance.

I don't think this would have any effect on your ability to have children. Though I didn't ask as it wasn't relevant to me.

AWildShinx26 karma

I think the concern would be "what if my kid needs a kidney and I already gave my spare away" rather than "what if I can't have kids".

merganzer20 karma

There is that, but I was mostly worried about the extra strain pregnancy puts on your body, especially since I had high blood pressure the first time around anyway (that's apparently a particular problem with one-kidney pregnancies).

hackthat7 karma

Everything medical is different when pregnancy is involved, so I don't know.

I thought about the possibility of not being able to donate to a family member if I did this, but I realized that this was a rather remote possibility and if it did happen I could probably convince another family member or friend to donate if my dad needed one some day.

secretgman16 karma


hackthat25 karma

Well, all the reasons I listed. I learned that it was a thing that (almost) anyone could do. And when I tried to think of a reason I DIDN'T need to do it I couldn't think of one. So I did. Also, Jesus.

WittiestScreenName14 karma

Set me up. I don't need an extra kidney.

hackthat6 karma

Call up the closest large medical center and say I want to do a non-directed kidney donation. That's how I got the ball rolling.

vapiddiscord13 karma

How did you decide on the left one?

hackthat28 karma

If one kidney is larger than the other they take the smaller one. If they're the same size (as in my case) they take the left one because it's blood vessels are longer and that makes it easier to work with.

VikingBlast12 karma

Donating to my dad???

I'm really glad you posted this. In the last year my dad's had a really shit string of situations hit him. He's diabetic and has heart disease, is 73, and had to have a toe amputated after it went gangrene. The antibiotics he was on were so powerful that they knocked his kidneys out and now he's on dialysis 3 days a week for 4 hours a day. He is pretty miserable.

I didn't even know that a transplant was an option at first, but suddenly he let me know that a not-so-close relative was interested in donating. We don't know if he's a match. I don't even know if I would be a match. At first I just felt guilty because I didn't jump to donate, but it's marinated in my mind a while and this is where I'm at (would love to get your guys' thoughts)...

And before I go into this, I feel like this situation has defined my alignment and I think I'm lawful neutral. I don't feel good about the way I feel, believe me, but it is the way I feel. Anyways...

I want to stay healthy and I'm scared of donating. I know you don't need both, but what if one of my 3 kids does some day? Or my wife? What if I get an infection and put my family's well-being in jeopardy? I'm the only bread winner.

My dad has a number of other things set against him at this point. He didn't take care of himself and I've only recently started taking care of myself and lost 30 pounds. What if I fall back into my old routine as an effect of the surgery? I know he's not going to suddenly take care of himself, so at best, I feel like this is only going to prolong things... what, a couple of years? (Haven't looked into this.) What if the transplant surgery is just too much for him? He's already had a hard time healing from a toe surgery... what about something massive like this? Is it riskier for him to have the transplant than not?

Anyways, I know I'm going to get slammed for being selfish. I totally get it. I feel that way about myself, a little disgusted, but this seems like such a huge thing to me that I'm kind of burying my head in the sand. I know he doesn't stand a chance of making it on a list. Not at his age with his conditions.

Any thoughts, Reddit?

hackthat3 karma

Don't feel selfish. Those are all good things to consider and donating isn't right for everyone.

I hope your dad makes it through.

kvltc0re10 karma

Donating your kidney: Good thing

Using misinformation to encourage a bunch of stranger to do the same: Bad thing

I really hope you people aren't buying this guys bullshit. I've only seen 2 out of 173 comments pointing it out so far. Stay gullible reddit.

hackthat2 karma

Which parts were misinformation?

I_Plunder_Booty7 karma

My god you must be insufferable. First no good deed goes un-broadcasted right? Once everybody you have ever met knows, time to start telling strangers on the internet.

Now my new goal is to get my friends to donate their kidneys.

If I had a friend who was bitching and trying to guilt me into donating my organs to strangers, I would unfriend them in a heartbeat. Never to be seen again.

Oh and here's a kidney donation story- http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/07/02/155979681/organ-donation-has-consequences-some-donors-arent-prepared-for Fingers crossed that you don't one day go into kidney failure, not like you have a backup. "But the industry that charges a fortune for kidney transplants says that it's completely safe and won't effect my lifespan or quality of life." They would, wouldn't they.

johnnybigboi6 karma

This guy is woefully uniformed about the risks of kidney donation. It's kind of blowing my mind that you can go through all the steps of donating without understanding the costs.

my life after recovery will be exactly the same as it would be otherwise with no increased risk of anything and the same life expectancy.

Uhh, no. There are loads of pharmaceuticals and activities that are now extremely risky for you if not completely unavailable. And the most you can say about life expectancy is that it hasn't been proven that it's shorter. Positively asserting that there is no affect on life expectancy is bullshit.

hackthat3 karma

No measurable affect would be a better way to put it. Which is saying something because there have been a lot of people donating kidneys for a long time. Everything in life has risks and kidney donation definitely has some. But the benefits far, far outweigh the risks especially considering all the other risks people take in stride now days.

katiehenry927 karma

I would just like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. This will probably get buried but I wanted to share a story. I was born in 1992. In 1993 my grandma had a double lung transplant. This was expected to last 7years tops, before the lungs gave out. She passed away in 2009 from brain tumors. Her lungs were fine. If this wonderful gift hadn't been given to her, I would have never known my grandma. When she passed away she donated the only organ she could. Her beautiful blue eyes. Thank you again.

hackthat3 karma

That's beautiful.

lithuanianbacon6 karma

What has been the most painful part of the of recovery?

hackthat11 karma

I think the day after. I was still in the hospital and my insides felt all out of place and it hurt to move. The constipation from the pain meds was more dragged out though. I don't remember the incisions themselves hurting much though.

HugItChuckItFootball5 karma

Cheers to you for doing this first of all.

That being said are you worried now of the effects of having only one kidney? Have you ever wondered what would happen is for some reason your only kidney began to fail?

hackthat13 karma

I'm not at any more at risk than anyone else. The second kidney really is redundant. And when kidneys fail, they usually fail together at the same time. So I'm really not at any extra risk for kidney disease.

HugItChuckItFootball2 karma

So is 20% functionality of each not better than 20% of one?
I only ask because I have a family history of shit kidney's so I figured I'd never be able to donate to any family member in need.

hackthat4 karma

Ok so it's not that redundant. You only need 100% kidney function, but most people start out with ~300%. My point is really that I'm not more at risk for kidney problems than anyone else.

shenanigans65 karma

Why can you not take NSAIDs? That includes Ibuprofen I think. Are there any other drugs you can't take?

Also when will you be fully recovered?

I truly admire your charity, and your post is making me seriously consider donating one myself.

hackthat2 karma

A lot of good painkillers are NSAIDs. Other posters have mentioned that I made too light of this drawback. Aleve, exedrin, and most OTC painkillers that aren't Tylenol-based are NSAIDs. It is something to consider and something that my doctors kept reminding me of.

GoodForYouBud4 karma

Your new goal is to get your friends to donate kidneys?

I kind of want to punch you in the mouth.

hackthat4 karma

Why is encouraging other people to do a good thing a bad thing?

shooter_junior4 karma

How old should I be before donating? I'm 17 and planning on playing college football and I also am considering taking up boxing. Should wait until my athlete days are over before donating?

hackthat2 karma

They probably won't let you consent until you're at least 18. I had to go through a lot of social workers and psychologists before they let me donate and I'm 26. Wait a few years and do it after college.

Also, college football is something that they might consider being "high risk of kidney injury" but this is debatable.

Delaying doesn't hurt anybody because you can only do it once.

thatEMSguy2 karma

What was the financial cost to you? Did insurance help at all? Thanks for the AMA. I've always wondered about donating a kidney

hackthat2 karma

All of it was billed to the recipient's insurance. Didn't cost me anything. Though I hear that some places make you pay for refills of pain meds, this was covered by the transplant center.

hey_now242 karma

Did you regret your decision at any point before the surgery?

hackthat2 karma

No. And at no point during recover did I think that it wasn't worth it.

principessa11802 karma

Thank you. My uncle is currently on the waiting list.

hackthat2 karma

Good luck to your uncle.

Razaroc30002 karma

Do you feel any moral accomplishments from it?

Would you do it again if you had 3 kidneys?

hackthat2 karma

And to answer your other question, yes. I feel like it's something that stands out on my "good person" resume. Like, if I ever needed to convince someone I was a good person I could show them my scars.

But, that's not the real reason I did it.

hackthat2 karma

If I had three and only needed 1. Yes. In a heartbeat.

TSpectacular2 karma

I'm glad that you did what you did, but I wish you weren't such a sanctimonious prick about it. A dear friend of mine gave a kidney to a stranger. Know why you didn't hear about it? Because he didn't go running all over the goddamn world bragging. Your action was lovely; you suck.

hackthat1 karma

Ya, it's better not to brag about the good you do. I wrote this so that more people would know it was possible and be inspired to. And, from the comments it looks like I might be successful.
Sorry I came off as a prick though.

Im_Randy_Butter_Nubs2 karma

As someone who underwent a kidney transplant 10 years ago (albeit donated by a family member) This means a great deal for that stranger.

A new kidney is like a new life. Dialysis and barely functioning kidneys blow chunks.

hackthat2 karma

Glad your new kidney is working out! Hope it lasts for years to come.

babylon_dude2 karma

You'll probably never see this comment as there's so many others already but I want to thank you for what you have done and for your effort to inspire others to donate their kidneys.

As someone heading for dialysis soon, your sacrifice is one of the most touching things I've ever seen on Reddit.

hackthat2 karma

Good luck on dialyisis!

missdolly872 karma

How do you get set up to do this? Is there an application process, like with the bone marrow donation registry?

hackthat2 karma

It's much easier to match kidneys that bone marrow. It's mostly just blood type. I just called the transplant office and said I'd like to do a non -directed kidney donation. They send you all the info in the mail.

spinnetrouble2 karma

Did you know anything about your recipient (or the others in the chain) prior to the donation day? Did they offer you veto power over your recipient (and thus the chain)?

hackthat2 karma

No. I wasn't allowed to know anything. And I liked it that way. There is a website, donorexchange.org or something like that where you can find other people who need kidneys. But this would require the burden of picking. And I didn't want that.

sheepledtoslaughter1 karma

You said they wanted to make sure you could do it, financially. How much did it cost?

hackthat2 karma

Didn't cost anything per se. They needed to make sure I could take the time off work and had someone to be there for me when I recovered. All the medical expenses were billed to the recipient's insurance.

Shekh_ma_shieraki_an1 karma

How long did it take from the time you decided you wanted to donate until the actual operation?

hackthat2 karma

2 years. Mostly because I decided to postpone it till I was done with classes and teaching. It can probably be done in as little as 4 weeks.

pamplemus1 karma

what if, when you're older, your spouse, child, friend, relative, etc. needs a kidney? do you think you'd regret your decision?

hackthat1 karma

I think I should be able to find a kidney for them. At the moment that looks like an unlikely possibility.

CuriousClam1 karma

how do people get tested to be a match? Or are there so many kidney's needed that if you are willing to donate it there is someone that needs it?

hackthat2 karma

There's almost certainly someone who needs it. Matching is mostly blood typing. They told me if I have the same blood type as a recipient it's a 90% chance I match. Although they will take like 20 vials of your blood to check everything.

real-dreamer1 karma

I have been trying to find the people to call so that I might donate.

Who do I contact? How do I do that?

hackthat1 karma

I called the OSU Medical Center Transplant office. I just said that I wanted to do a non-directed kidney donation. That starts the process off. Alternatively there is a website where you can meet the recipient first before you donate. I didn't do that though because I didn't want the burden of choosing.


Yeah, yeah, "get in the mood, turn off your critical thinking, let us use some sly arguments and use your religion against you, let us cut out your organs". This is seriously fucked up. Please people, don't listen to this. Don't let them manipulate you into giving them your body parts. They know some of you feel bad about yourselves and they're using that against you to rob you of what's only yours. Don't let them!

hackthat2 karma

Who is "them"? I'm not a doctor an neither me nor anyone I know needs a kidney. I have no motivation except altruism.