A reader writes:
When I was in high school, my best friend's grandmother went through the process of finding a kidney. Luckily, her brother was a willing match, but ever since then I've made a firm commitment to myself to donate one of mine. I did research on the process and then contacted the National Kidney Foundation, very ready to hand over my superfluous organ. I then went through the laborious health screening--which isn't enormously terrible but does involve collecting all of one's urine for a couple days--and passed. After all of this, I was told by the Kidney Foundation that donors must be at least 21. I was only 19 at the time. I was disappointed and slightly irritated that they couldn't have told me this before I started carrying a jar of pee around in public.
But I turn 21 this fall and am very eager to try again. I'm unconcerned about risk; not only am I young and therefore invincible, but driving in Chicago has got to be a hell of a lot riskier than undergoing a routine surgery. I'm an atheist, so it's not like I'm banking on any good karma or post-life rewards. The way I see it, kidney donation really isn't that big of a deal, it makes a great story for parties, and it could result in a better life for someone's grandmother. That's all the encouragement I need.