Social Question

chupacabra's avatar

How would you honestly feel if your significant other volunteered to donate a kidney?

Asked by chupacabra (796points) October 21st, 2009

For the sake of this discussion you are married with kids.

So lets just say you found out that your spouse had volunteered one of their kidneys to their father who is in kidney failure. It is not yet needed and matching has not yet happened but the possibility of it happening is very real.

How do you react? With anger? With Joy? Would you try to discourage them or would you encourage them?
What do you honestly think your reaction would be?

Rather than taint the discussion I will wait to add what I would do later down the thread.

Many thanks to all who contribute their thoughts. This is actually really playing out in my life.

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45 Answers

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

I’d be all for it, because it is the gift of life. To be angry about it is just stupid and selfish.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I think it would depend, in part, on the specifics of the situation. In this instance, is the reason the father needs a kidney hereditary? That would make all the difference. If my husband was highly likely to encounter the same issue I would be very against it except as an absolutely last, last, last resort.

If it wasn’t hereditary or we knew it wouldn’t be hitting my hubby, then it’s really up to him. I mean, it’s his body. Once he made that decision, I’d support it either way.

chupacabra's avatar

Adding note left out:
No- the problem is not hereditary

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@Psychedelic_Zebra well said.

To his father? There’s no question that I’d be all for it. I’d do everything I could to support them both.

fireinthepriory's avatar

I’d be supportive. Being that I would donate a kidney to my mom (probably even if it would be deleterious to my own health!) I’d be supportive if my spouse wanted to do the same. Especially if it’s not a hereditary problem, I think I’d be all for it.

And I’d like to note my mother already only has one kidney, so I’m aware that you have to be careful when you only have one, and also aware that you can be fully functioning.

Facade's avatar

I’d be supportive. I think it’d be very brave of him to do that.

judochop's avatar

Do it. Do it. Do it. What if that was you needing that kidney?

wundayatta's avatar

I wouldn’t want my spouse to lose a kidney, but I wouldn’t pressure her one way or the other. I think it’s up to her to decide what she would do for her father. I know she would take into consideration the needs of her children, and the risks that she might die or have lifelong problems resulting from the surgery.

I would be surprised if her father would ask her, if he were still alive. There might be the pressure of guilt, but I trust my wife to make a decision based on the same priorities I would consider.

tinyfaery's avatar

I would be fearful, but it’s her body.

poofandmook's avatar

If the problem is not hereditary, or wasn’t caused by lifestyle/being irresponsible, then I would be supportive.

Likeradar's avatar

It would definitley be scary. I would worry about potential complications and the effect his recovery time would have on our family life.
However, I would be supportive. I would be proud of him for wanting to do this for his father, and I would be happy about the example he’d be setting for our children.

kelly's avatar

I’m soon to transplant a kidney. Have known about it since 1992, when a life insurance physical determined that I was dumping protein in my urine and further biopsy confirmed. I have been very very fortunate because it has been so slow to get to this stage of less than 10% function. Have, so far, been able to not have dialysis. My sister matches me, my brother does not. Siblings are the best donor choice, next would be my children, then my first cousins, then pretty much the general population. Those who donate and later may need a kidney, are put to the top of the list. So go for it and donate if you are willing, it is a gift as no other.

chyna's avatar

I would be very supportive of it. What greater show of love than to donate a kidney to a parent. I have no doubt if it were me in need of a kidney, my mother would donate in the blink of an eye.
Seriously, how could you live with yourself if you didn’t do all you could to keep a parent alive?

DarkScribe's avatar

Before or after she has done the washing up?

She wouldn’t hesitate if it was for family, but not for strangers. She wants to stay around as long as she can – to look after family. I am being manipulated into offering to donate to a family member who I detest. (It ain’t going to happen.)

chupacabra's avatar

Adding more notes on subjects brought up:

The kidney failure was caused by prolonged use of Advil for knee pain before it was made public the harm that it could do. The father greatly regrets not knowing and has not been taking the Advil since the moment he found out it could be harmful.

The Father is 74 but is otherwise in great health.

@kelly Thank you for telling me about a donor moving to the top of the list if they find themselves needing a kidney in the future. I was not aware of that and it helps.

casheroo's avatar

I’d be scared, only because I worry about the complications. But those are normal, rational feelings. I would also be proud and supportive.
this is completely hypothetical for me, since I’m almost positive my husband wouldn’t donate to his alcoholic father

JLeslie's avatar

It’s complicated. I would want to wait a little to see if a kidney became available from another source, but if his father was in immediate need and my husband wanted to do it I would be supportive. Nervous, but supportive.

Jeruba's avatar

I would say, “It’s your kidney, and you can do whatever you want with it. I think it was very brave and generous of you to make this offer. I hope you never have to see it through, but if you do, I’m with you.”

wildpotato's avatar

I’d be cautiously supportive. And scared for both my SO and his dad.

Advice aside, there’s an interesting Simpsons episode about this very issue.

ubersiren's avatar

I’d be very proud, but also extremely concerned for him. Also I’d be a little surprised, because honestly my husband isn’t very charitable. I know that sounds horrible for me to say, but it’s not because he’s unkind, but more that it just doesn’t cross his mind. I have to remind him to say ‘thank you’ to waiters and delivery people.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

We would consider the decision together, it’d be ultimately, of course, up to him as it is his body and I would support his decision…if he decided to donate his kidney, I would do all in my power to educate myself and help him with preparation and recovery

augustlan's avatar

As a kidney disease patient myself, I would wholeheartedly support this decision. Of course I would be scared, too, but I wouldn’t let that influence my level of support.

@wildpotato Your link doesn’t work right… it gets redirected to a ‘pay for play’ site.

RedPowerLady's avatar

We are going through this right now
Lurve for good question

My husband is donating his kidney to his brother who needs one. We have been together for 8 years and have a child on the way. So I believe that meets your criteria ;)

My initial reaction was they need to ask someone else. That was because we were going through the loss of our previous child. So they did but the other person backed out. Then it fell to my hubby. He really wants to help his brother.

So my next reaction is we are going to get as much information on this as possible. So they did a bazillion tests on his health and he passed them all with some minor “issues”. During that time we asked tons of questions. Then we had additional doctor’s appointments to deal with the minor “issues” because I’m not willing to let anything get past us. And we then asked for more consults with people off the kidney team so we could get unbiased responses to our answers. I think so far we’ve been very proactive. We are waiting on one more test result that may or may not affect his decision to donate.

Now my reaction is that he needs to have a very serious discussion with his brother about how he needs to take his medicine and take care of himself after the surgery. This is pretty much where we are at right now, setting up a meeting to do this and see how it goes (along with waiting for our last minor test result).

In the beginning I was honestly scared out of my wits. Out of my wits! But after having all the information I am much less scared. Still I’m hormonal being pregnant and all so I have times where I’m still really scared.

I’ll also note that we are already in counseling together because of the loss of our son so our counselor has discussed some issues with us and is helping us get answers when the doctors are difficult. And helping see how my husband really feels about donating a kidney.

Zaku's avatar

I’d feel hurt that I found out and wasn’t involved in the conversation before the decision.

chupacabra's avatar

Thank you all so much for the input so far. It has been extremely helpful.
@RedPowerLady I cannot thank you enough for your response. You are indeed on the same path as us.

Here is my take on the question. I would support my spouse 110% and as @Simone_De_Beauvoir mentioned I would educate myself and be there.

However in reality I am the one wishing to donate the kidney. It is my father who is in renal failure. I had assumed my spouse would have no problem with my offer and would support me as I would support him if the situation was reversed.

However in the short time we had to speak of the offer I was stunned at his response. He was less-than-enthusiastic and brought up reasons I should consider such as I would not be able to work in some jobs with only one kidney. (All I could think at this was “How could the remote possibility of a job somewhere in the future that I may never want trump saving my Father’s life?”)

We will, of course, speak of it again. When we do I will need to understand where he is coming from emotionally hence this question.

This is one of the rare times in my life that I have not been able to put myself in someone elses shoes. I cannot fathom the idea of watching my Father die and do nothing when I have the power to cure him.

If he tells me he does not support me it will cause extreme problems in our relationship. If I do not donate to respect his wishes I am certain I will resent him when I lose my Father. But the most likely scenario is that I would proceed and our marriage would likely be dealt a horrible, if not lethal, blow.

I do not know how it will play out and if perhaps he will be more open to the idea next time we talk.

Any advice is very welcome and thank you all so much.

@Zaku He found out before I could tell him from our daughter who was present in the doctors office when I asked if a transplant was an option. I think that what you said could have come into play as well. Thank you for your response.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@chupacabra How much time have you given your spouse to think about the situation? It seems like a typical first-reaction.

I also think if he understands how small the risk really is (to you) then he may react better. The more I learned about the risks, or lack thereof, the better able I was to deal with the situation. I’m happy to talk with you more about any of what I’ve been through if you’d like either on the thread or in PM.

I think that you should tell your spouse you want him to think of all his concerns. Then after some time allow him to list them off. I think most of them can be dealt with practically by getting more information. Also it might help to say you won’t make any decisions until you get more information and have him go with you to all appointments. How far along are you in the process? Don’t react poorly or defensive to your hubby’s reaction right now because it’ll like add fuel to a fire that doesn’t need to exist.

BTW you are quite welcome, I’m happy to share :)

Darwin's avatar

I would say something similar to what @Jeruba said. My husband is a generous man, and both of us are organ donors, so it would just be a premature donation.

However, I would be truly thankful because that would mean he had two healthy kidneys. In the real world my husband has no functioning kidneys as of a month ago and is now on dialysis. I am not a match for him.

However, not getting a kidney donated is not an automatic death sentence. There are folks who have been on dialysis successfully for years and today you can even do home dialysis if you want, so you aren’t necessarily tied to a dialysis center.

And bear in mind that just because someone is a match and donates a kidney, there is no guarantee that a donated kidney will function in its new home. The woman who teaches the pre-dialysis classes in our town has had three kidney transplants. All were supposedly good matches, but one failed within days, one failed after 3 years, but the third is still going after 5 years.

JLeslie's avatar

@chupacabra I don’t understand how one kidney would affect a job? If I were against my husband giving the kidney, it would be out of fear that he may not come through the surgery well, have some sort of lasting complications from the surgery. If he did do the surgery, even if I was against it, but came through the surgery with no problems, I don’t think it would negatively affect the future of our marriage in the long run. But, of course, you know your spouse, and what feelings he might hold on to. I think maybe you need to get more information about why he is against it and what he is afraid of, and be willing to really discuss it with him, which it seems you are. Is your father in dire need of the kidney, or can he be on dialysis for a while? Does your father want you to give him a kidney?

Darwin's avatar

I don’t understand how one kidney would affect a job?

There is no specific list of jobs people with one kidney cannot have. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians and the Medical Society of Sports Medicine have suggested that people with one kidney avoid sports that involve higher risks of heavy contact or collision. This includes boxing, field hockey, football, ice hockey, Lacrosse, martial arts, rodeo, soccer and wrestling. Also certain military regulations may not permit a person with one kidney to enter the service or to undertake certain military occupations.

Persons following certain occupations are peculiarly liable to Bright’s disease (nowadays called acute or chronic nephritis), which with only one kidney you would want to avoid. Exposure to lead or other toxins could put a person with only one kidney at greater risk than someone with two.

I would assume that jobs that involve situations similar to those found in high-impact sports or exposure to toxins (such as gasoline, gasoline-based paint spray, jet fuel, mineral turpentine, degreasing agents, toluene, or other solvents) that cause nephritis would be the ones to avoid. These would include many manufacturing jobs, painting, certain kinds of chemist and engineering positions, being a mechanic, being a forensic pathologist, or playing professional sports. Possibly it would be a limitation to a job in law enforcement.

Apparently, sometimes it becomes difficult to get insurance if you only have one kidney.

However, by and large, people with one kidney tend to do just fine. They may have a slightly greater risk of developing high blood pressure, and may need to be monitored more closely as they age, but typical one healthy kidney can easily do the job of two kidneys.

tedibear's avatar

I would be both proud of him and scared/concerned for him. Scared only because any surgery runs the risk of serious complications.

@chupacabra – I think that I would feel as you do. If I had the power to potentially save my father’s life, I would do it. I don’t even know you and I’m proud of you!

Janka's avatar

I think I would be, like @tedibear39 says, both scared and proud.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’d be proud of them, I’d be supportive but I’d also have a healthy dose of fear for their health since it’s not guaranteed the donor will live on well with just one kidney.

chupacabra's avatar

I totally appreciate all the answers here- LURVE TO ALL!

Thank you all for the input I needed. We are taking it slow and investigating his fears and concerns together. I could not have done it without hearing how you all would react.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@chupacabra Me and hubby gathered lots of little tidbits and facts along the way so if we can help answer any questions, or point you in the right direction, let me know. I forgot to put that in PM

Darwin's avatar

Just remember, kidney failure is not a death sentence. While dialysis is not exactly fun, it is quite possible to get into a routine with it and live just fine for many years.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Darwin That is absolutely true. My Brother-in-Law has been on dialysis for ten years in a row. And some more in addition. At this point however his fistulas are getting to the point of failure so that is a possibility one should explore with one’s doctor when starting dialysis.

babaji's avatar

probably would be pretty proud of her/him.
a lot of selfless, unconditional love here.
Would definitely support them.
When this body ceases to be it will donate to where it is needed.

lynfromnm's avatar

I think a person’s decisions about his body are his own business, regardless of the circumstances. I certainly wouldn’t be angry or resentful – how could I be, when the act is intended to save his father’s life? If, down the line, that same kidney could have been used elsewhere, that’s the breaks. Could he live with it if he didn’t offer his kidney to his father and his father died because of that decision?

Be supportive and offer to help him talk the decision out, but it’s his body and he knows what he can and can’t live with as far as consequences go.

Ron_C's avatar

Well, her father’s dead but if she wanted to donate it to one of our kids or grand-kids, I’d be very proud of her.

LeopardGecko's avatar

In disbelief as to why, Homer Simpson makes a pretty good point:

“You’ve shortened your life significantly so someone else can have a a slight extension of theirs.”

Cruiser's avatar

I would do the same and support her in any way I could!

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I wouldn’t have a problem with it.It is very generous.

YARNLADY's avatar

I know my husband would examine every possibility in advance, and I trust him to make the correct decision. I am in favor of organ donors, and if it would be the last resort, than it would be the correct answer.

My Father In Law just passed away because he refused to have a simple, life extending heart valve replacement.

Pandora's avatar

It would greatly depend on how much does he want to do it. If I felt he didn’t want to do it then I would insist he doesn’t and put it in such a way where he would see reason. If he really wanted to do it than I would raise the pros and cons with my father in law and husband.

With surgery there is always the chance something may go wrong and both can die. I know the percentage is probably 99.9 or something like that, that things will be fine but the pill is also 99.9 and there are a lot of unexpected babies in the world.

I know as a mother I would never ask my children to put themselves in harms way to save my life and I’m sure my father in law feels the same way.

However as things are his dad probably has healthier kidneys than my husband. He solidly healthy for a 88 year old. And knowing my father in law, if it can’t be done without surgery than he wouldn’t want it. He believes in natural healing.

All being said, I would be teriffied for him but it wouldn’t be a decision I could make for him. But I wouldn’t pressure him to go for it either. I would talk to both of them about waiting for another possible donor. If something happened to him or his other kidney I would feel guilty if I convinced him to go for it.

And yes, I do love my father in law but I couldn’t put my husband in harms way to save him.

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