A 32-year-old man from Oklahoma decided he would give a stranger his kidney and 3 months later, he received an emotional “thank you” letter from the man who received it.
The man, who goes by the reddit name TheBartian, wanted to share his letter and his experience to encourage organ donation saying, “I hope his letter encourages you all to be donors when you die, and some of you to be living donors. Too many people lose loved ones too early.”
The transplant center forwarded him the letter anonymously and he posted it as a way to raise awareness of altruistic kidney donation. It has been something he’s wanted to do for many years.
The letter reads:
Hello, my name is [redacted]. I am 63 years old and I have a son named S. When S. was 6 years old his mother passed away after battling cancer for 5 years. This has put me and my son very close. After many years, I remarried a lady named [redacted]. We live on a small farm in a town called [redacted].
I now have 3 grandsons named [redacted], [redacted],and [redacted]. My son and my 3 grand sons are my life, I do not do anything without one of the 4. Because of the gift you gave me on Jan 5th 2017 I think I will get to see more basketball games, more baseball games, and more football games.
I really want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, because of you I am going to have a better and longer life.
After posting the letter, many people praised the man’s actions and were curious about how he came to his decision. In response, TheBartian shared why he chose to do it and what happened throughout the experience.
“I’ve wanted to do it for over 10 years, initially my parents, siblings, and wife thought it was just a phase. The more I researched it the more I saw it was just the right thing to do. My wife eventually came on board, I’m not sure anyone else ever really did. I’m not gay so I don’t know that it’s really like coming out, but telling people you are donating your kidney to a stranger I think brings up some of the same emotions in parents that they might have had 10 or 20 years ago about being gay. Sort of the “are your sure” “are you going to be ok”, “is this a phase you are going to grow out of”.
“I wasn’t going to tell my parents about the surgery, but my wife said I had to. It was an awkward conversation, but donating a kidney was the right thing to do. My father-in-law died 8 years ago to lung cancer, he was a year younger than my recipient, 62, when he died. He’s missed a lot these last 8 years, my dad happens to be 62 this year also.”
“So this was my third time to try to donate, the first time it was like an uncle of a friend’s cousin or something, very far removed, there was someone else that offered to donate that was in better health than me who was a match so I didn’t donate to him.”
“Then there was a friend of a friend, who ended up being one of my wife’s coworkers. I got tested and we weren’t a match, but by the time they figured out we weren’t a match they had determined I was healthy enough to donate.”
“That same day I found out I had a second cousin that needed a kidney, but because of her medical history with lymphoma it didn’t look good that we were going to be a match.”
“They found someone I was a match for, but after they told him they found him a match, he called back the next day and told them he had a sore on his foot, which disqualified him from getting the kidney. They gave me the option of waiting for the sore on his foot to heal or giving my kidney to the backup recipient.”
“I called the next day and told them to give it to the backup recipient. It was hard to make a lot of the decisions, but it kept coming back to people are dying waiting so the sooner I donate the better the chain reactions will be. Because I donated, people farther down the list will get kidneys sooner from deceased donors.”
“It took about 4 months from the time I called to the surgery date, lots of scans and test. This was my first surgery and it was a breeze, it’s all done laparoscopicly. Surgery was on a Thursday and I was home Saturday afternoon. I took pain meds for a couple of days, but just at night to help me sleep. My only restrictions are I can’t play contact sports (so I don’t damage my one kidney) and I can’t drink lots of alcohol (4-5 drinks) every day, but that’s probably not good even with two kidneys.”
“I joke with people that I have a c-section scar, 3-4 inch vertical scar below my belly button where they took the kidney. I was out of the hospital in two days and never needed pain meds after that, but I did take them before bed for a few days just to make sure I didn’t wake up in pain. I walked around the house as much as I could. 10 days out I was walking my dog a mile. I could have gone back to work after two weeks if they would have let me wear sweatpants. By 5 weeks out I was walking 8-10 miles every other day. Almost six months out now and I can do everything I could before surgery and don’t miss my kidney at all.”
TheBartian also pointed out that all medical costs were covered: “It was 100% free, they cover anything related to the donation for at least two years after the surgery. I have my six month follow up in a couple of weeks and I won’t have to pay anything.”
People also asked if he might regret his choice if he has a problem with his one remaining kidney. “I don’t think I would regret it, if I need a new kidney I go to go to the top of the list with a wait of 4-5 months instead of 4-5 years if I didn’t donate.”
According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 101,000 Americans need a kidney, but only 17,000 people receive one each year. “That’s something I sometimes point out to people,” TheBartian wrote adding, “8,000 die waiting on kidneys.”
As for if he plans to respond to the organ recipient,TheBartian commented, “Maybe I should just let him know that it hasn’t changed my lifestyle at all, except for taking a little better care of myself and letting him know I took care of the kidney when it was mine. That it came from a good home.”
Share what this man did with your friends and family and consider getting yourself on the donor list.