Live Kidney Donors Should Be Encouraged, Not Doubted
Activist seeking organ gets help from friends
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2009 11:20 AM CDT
Surgeons at Georgetown University Hospital perform a kidney transplant on Cynthia Preloh on Oct. 2, 2008. Technology has made the process less dangerous, but it's still a serious surgery.   (AP Photo/Georgetown University Hospital, Rick Reinhard)
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(Newser) – When Frances Kissling learned she needed a kidney transplant, she took a step most people in her situation never do: She asked dozens of friends and colleagues if they would be willing to donate. "I was bowled over by how people responded," the Catholic feminist activist writes for Salon—she reached out to 150 people and within a month had two dozen offers. So why is the list of people waiting for transplants so long?

The list of volunteers, all female, sounds like a joke about walking into a bar: "I had offers from an Episcopal woman priest, Roman Catholic nun, ACLU lawyer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author (OK, it is Anna Quindlen, who said she thought if we ever had to share an organ, it would be our spleens)." With kidney donations falling dramatically short of the need, Kissling says it's time to start encouraging live donors, who are now treated with so much suspicion that "even a free glass of orange juice ... given to a donor is interpreted by some leaders in the field as a 'bribe' or a crime."