My name is Elaine, & I live in NYC. This is my short video about my kidney donation adventure:

Being an anonymous kidney donor was the best decision I have ever made. Relieving suffering & saving lives is our shared human mission. Our 2nd kidney is not needed for our survival. It’s a vestigial organ, like our appendix. This spare kidney has the power to save strangers' lives. For those who are in top health, consider giving a part of yourself so others can live.

My kidney donation started a chain that provided kidneys for four people, achieving the maximum good from a single gift as an effective altruist does. In order to receive a kidney, my recipient’s loved one volunteered to donate a kidney to a stranger. The recipient of that second kidney had someone donate and so on until a total of four people received new kidneys. My FB page is called "Kidneys 4 Strangers." This page can be seen here: I wrote a book called "Be the Parent You Wish You Had" under the name Mother Zeus.

Comments: 49 • Responses: 16  • Date: 

Secure_Yoghurt10 karma

Did you meet the receiver?

ElaineNY27 karma

Hello! I have not and do not plan to meet the recipient. I like the idea that it could be anyone that received my kidney. Also, I do not want to be thanked or perceived as if I am owed anything. In total 4 people received new kidneys because of the chain that was initiated. Thinking about the four of them living a dialysis-free life makes me feel very happy.

funniesforfamilies7 karma

You have given an unbelievable gift. Thank you for what you’ve done! You’re an inspiration.

ElaineNY4 karma

Thanks for your kind note. Please spread the word that non-directed kidney donation is a possibility so that those who may consider donating learn about the opportunity. Only 2-3% of kidney donors give to strangers. With such a long waiting list of 113,000, we can shorten the line by giving anonymously to those awaiting a kidney donation to replace their failing kidneys. Kidney dialysis has been described as a “living death.” For the 468,000 Americans on kidney dialysis, their lives are filled with the debilitating suffering that stems from 4 hour dialysis, 3 times each week. For those on dialysis, their 5-year survival rate is 35% vs. 97% for those who receive transplants.

Bsmoothy1 karma

If you have a faulty kidney why cant they take out your extra kidney and put it in place of the faulty kidney? Ive always wondered this.. if we have two why do we neeed a donor instead of just swapping our shitty kidney for the extra one? I feel like you may have the answer to this question that has been racking my brain for a decade

ElaineNY1 karma

When kidneys become diseased, both are impacted. The only time only one is impacted would be in the case of an accident. Because I have donated, if my one kidney is every damaged in an accident, then I will go to the top of the donor list, effectively providing me with lifelong kidney insurance. For those 113,000 waiting for a donor kidney, most will die before receiving a donation. We only need one kidney to live normal lives.

king-kore5 karma

Was your recovery very hard/painful? I love the idea of donation but I’m a big baby with pain/operations in general

ElaineNY15 karma

Hello! I am also a very big baby. I despise pain and anything medical. I need to lie down when blood is being drawn. I cannot watch or even think about anything medical without feeling woozy. The happy surprise is that the procedure did not bring me much pain. The surgeon advised me to use the pain pump generously at the beginning so that I would need far fewer pain pills in total. When we get into a high pain state, far more painkillers will be needed from that point onward to achieve a non-pain state. I was happy I found this out because I experienced aches but not pain. In other operations I have had, the pain was far greater. For example, I had varicose vein surgery and would rate that pain a 9. The kidney surgery gave me a pain level of 4. I was on the hospital prescribed painkillers tramadol around the clock for a week. Then extra strength Tylenol for 2 weeks. By the 3rd week, no painkillers were needed. So do not fear the pain.

maxiboy24113 karma

What’s an altruistic donation? What happens if someone backs out? Does your body feel weird, as if there’s a gap inside of you?

ElaineNY7 karma

An altruistic kidney donation is when someone gives a kidney to a stranger. As a donor, I had the right to change my mind until the moment I was in the operating room, prepped for surgery. My body feels the same as before. This is my fourth week after surgery. I am working full time and enjoying life. A kidney is only 4 ounces. Here's a video I made about my adventure.

maxiboy24111 karma

That’s interesting, thanks for the answer! Did you have any second thoughts or internal conflict?

ElaineNY4 karma

I did not find out about the opportunity to donate until last year when I was 50. I am hoping that the chance to really improve someone's life could be more well-known. That's why I did this AMA and started a FB group called "Kidneys 4 Strangers." When I found out that strangers could legally donate kidneys to strangers since 2002 and that the procedure was safe, I was immediately interested. After I did my research, I was convinced that this was a simple way to have a real impact. One of the highlights in my life was when I got the call that the hospital had found a match. Once my test results were put into a computer to find a recipient, it only took three hours to match me with a recipient. The fountain of joy I have felt within me from the time I found out I had qualified until now is very rewarding. From the start & without any hesitation, I felt driven to share my spare kidney!

Crafty_Benjo3 karma

So. I would love to do something slimiest one day. If I gave on of my kidneys away, then the other started to fail/ got infected, would they put me at a massive risk?

ElaineNY7 karma

In the US, if a donor chooses a hospital that is connected with the National Kidney Registry, after donating, the donor would go to the top of the kidney donation waiting list in addition to one of the donor's loved ones. This serves as a kind of kidney insurance for both people. The kidney waiting list in the US currently has 113,000 On average, kidney donors live longer than non-kidney donors because a donor needs to be in top health, both physically and emotionally, in order to qualify to donate. If one kidney gets health issues, then both will. In the case of an injury, a single kidney could be negatively impacted. 1 in 750 are born with one kidney. They did a CAT scan on me to make sure I had two kidneys.

[deleted]1 karma


Eenormay1 karma

Do you have the option of knowing who you are donating too, or learning the names of all the people in your donation chain?

ElaineNY1 karma

If both the recipient and the donor wish to learn about each other, or meet, that is definitely an option. Many videos can be found of donors and recipients meeting. In the case of chain donations, videos such as this one show the deep gratitude of both recipients and donors.

mrs-jiggly-likker1 karma

Does it feel different not having a kidney or does it feel the same?

ElaineNY1 karma

My body feels the same without one of my kidneys. 1 in 750 people are born with one kidney with a condition called renal agenesis. They live normal, healthy lives. Here's a good article from Scientific American entitled, "How Can You Live Without One of Your Kidneys?" Since having my kidney removed a month ago, my body feels like before. My full healing will be on the sixth week. Right now, I feel good, though my belly can become sore if I carry something. Until the sixth week, I should only carry light objects.

OnlyChargersFan1 karma

Can you donate a kidney if you are on medication yourself? What is the process like to see if you can become a donor?

ElaineNY2 karma

Please get in touch with a hospital and find out if the particular medication is a deal breaker. I am not sure. Only the super healthy pass the organ donation medical committee's thorough and caring scrutiny that combs through the medical record of potential donors before approving them. Those who are approved as anonymous donors are not at risk for kidney disease because most people who contract kidney disease eat a high fat, salt and sugar diet. Donors need to pass multiple tests including a stress test, renal scan, psychological evaluation, and CAT scan. One of the reasons for the requirement of the CAT scan is to make sure the donor has 2 kidneys. Because kidney donors are in top health and therefore at low risk for disease, kidney donors actually outlive average Americans. Donors have no food or drink restrictions. The only lifestyle change is that we can no longer take ibuprofen because the tablets damage kidneys. I had one big day of testing and had to get blood work done a few times when I was close to the day of surgery.

OnlyChargersFan1 karma

Thank you for such a detailed response. What you did and the way you chose to do it is incredible and selfless. If I am unable to do the same, I will at least help you spread the word. All the best to you!

ElaineNY3 karma

Thank you for your note and your willingness to spread the word. Very few people will be interested. 3% of all donations are between strangers. In a recent study, non-directed kidney donors were discovered to have an 8% larger than average amygdala. In contrast, psychopaths have smaller than average amygdalas. I do not consider this choice to be selfless but just obvious. I have something I don't need that can save a life, so I gave it away. I know that this is not a mainstream way to think. I think that in this case, my very plump amygdala made the decision. Here's the video:

LofturHjalmarsson1 karma

if receiver is rich and wanted to meet you to pay you half is wealth for saving his live would you nt like that?

ElaineNY5 karma

I'm not motivated by money in this case. The currency for me, since the moment I got the news that I was approved for the donation until now, has been joy. I frequently think about the four people in my kidney chain who are off dialysis and able to have great mornings, noons and nights for decades! I don't want to be thanked because often people react to a gift by thinking they owe the giver something, causing an uncomfortable imbalance. This dynamic, for me, diminishes the gift. This gift has no strings attached, only life attached. I'm 51, & I never thought I would have the opportunity to save a life. It's a great feeling that I highly recommend.

Norgeroff1 karma

What color is your toothbrush?

ElaineNY2 karma


Norgeroff1 karma

That's a nice color! Thank you :D

ElaineNY2 karma

Thank you! Chosen because it's my favorite. Enjoy today!

c92dlb1 karma

Can you talk a little bit about the financial side of the process? Were you responsible for any of the costs--testing beforehand or hospital stay charges?

ElaineNY2 karma

I incurred no costs at all. The medical testing, surgery and hospital stay are entirely paid for by the recipient's insurance. Because my hospital is connected with the National Kidney Registry (NKR), if needed, transportation, lodging, & lost wages are reimbursed. The NKR also provide one of my loved ones and me a voucher if we ever need kidneys.Kidney transplantation provides tremendous cost savings for the healthcare system compared with dialysis. Kidneys from deceased donors last on average 14.7 years. Those from living donors last on average 26.6 years.