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Op-Ed: I donated my kidney to a stranger — and more of us should

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For most of my life, I’ve been a model of good health. At 17, I became a certified firefighter, and, at 20, I biked from Texas to Alaska. But last month, at 25, I spent a week in bed recovering from surgery, with fresh incision holes in my abdomen, because I made an unusual choice. I donated my left kidney to someone who dearly needed one — someone whom I don’t know and have never met.

It may have never crossed your mind that you, too, could donate a kidney to someone who is in desperate need. If you are healthy, the risk is quite minimal. But the benefit to the recipient is tremendous, adding roughly 10 years to that person’s life. More than 100,000 Americans suffer from end-stage renal disease, or kidney failure, and are currently waiting to receive a transplant. They endure endless hours of dialysis each week, and, tragically, many will die before it is their turn for a new kidney.

Donors return to work in a matter of weeks, their lives relatively unchanged. While the surgery does leave you with some unpleasant, temporary pain, I can tell you from experience that, with the support of loving family and friends, it’s very manageable.

I first learned about kidney donation amid my own health crisis. An........

© Los Angeles Times