Imagine what you would do if a loved one needed a kidney to live. You may not think twice before getting tested to see if you could donate to them, but then ... what if you weren't a match? What then? Thankfully, there's a pay-it-forward strategy that works as an alternative: Donate to a stranger in need who is a match, and your loved one will get a transplant from a matching stranger, too. That's how it worked in the largest kidney donation chain in history, which saved 30 lives.
The 30 donors and 30 recipients involved in Chain 124, as it was labeled by the nonprofit National Kidney Registry, came from 17 different states to help one another, according to The New York Times. What transpired can only be described as totally inspiring.
Two of the all-stars involved were Garet Hill, a Long Island businessman who was inspired by his daughter's brush with kidney failure to launch the effort, and Rick Ruzzamenti, an electrician in California, who started the chain by donating his kidney and expecting nothing in return.
Then, by using computer matching, surgical technique, and advanced organ shipping, the chain went on to save 30 lives. Lives like Dan Gianquinto's -- whose wife, Debbie Gianquinto, couldn't donate her kidney to her husband, so she offered up her kidney to a stranger in Florida, and in turn, Dan received the organ he needed from a man he had never met in California. And again and again stories like this played out across the country. Simply amazing -- and standing ovation-worthy!
All too often, we live our lives out for ourselves, asking, "What's in it for me?" And while most of the people in this chain were hoping to help a loved one -- albeit indirectly -- it never would have been possible for them to do that if it hadn't been for Ruzzamenti, who donated to no one in particular, for no reason other than to be a Good Samaritan. It really makes you stop and think about how a "random act of kindness" -- which usually sounds like something reserved for sleep-away camp or an indie flick on the Sundance Channel -- can completely and forever change, or in this case, save, someone's life. Being selfless has a resounding effect.
Here's the segment Diane Sawyer did on the chain a few nights ago, in which she featured Ruzzamenti and Garet Hill. Their story is truly incredible!
What do you think about this donation chain? Would you ever donate an organ to a stranger?
Image via ABC News