By Risa Simon, Author, Shift Your Fate
It takes courage to ask others for help—and there’s no bigger ask than asking for a kidney. The mere thought of putting someone at risk (for your own benefit) could push anyone outside their comfort zone.
Begin by sharing your story. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your story, consider having a family member or friend become your donor advocate to help you spread the word and raise awareness about living donation and your need for a kidney.
It may help to also share with people that the need for kidneys is nationwide. Let it be known that over 100,000 people wait alongside you for a deceased donor’s kidney. By making the message bigger than yourself, you are creating an opportunity to help more people by educating the public while potentially finding a willing donor.
Cultivate the call to action by describing how kidneys from living donors offer better outcomes and a life-saving alternative to the long, uncertain wait. More people may be willing to consider living donation if they are aware of the need, process, risks and benefits of living kidney donation.
Your job is to enlighten as many people as possible without pressuring someone to feel that they “have to” do something. The objective is pure and simple: To create interest and awareness in this altruistic path. If you’re asking for anything, you’re asking people to consider becoming your donor advocate by increasing awareness. The more people that increase awareness about living kidney donation, the greater the potential for saving lives.
Though it may be difficult, try your best to remain emotionally neutral to the different types of responses you’ll receive. Do not be surprised if some individuals act as if they’re going to help you, but never follow through. There may be overzealous offers from individuals who think they can help you, but can’t. You might also observe a lack of interest from individuals who assume they cannot help you, though they actually could. This can be difficult to witness; however, living donation is a choice that people have to make for themselves. The best you can do is to provide information about living donation and your personal experience with kidney disease.
It’s important to remember that individual responses are not a reflection of how much someone cares about you. Recognize that living kidney donation isn’t for everyone. It takes a very special person to step up, and an extremely healthy person to pass the qualification process. Don’t take responses personally. Your ideal donor is out there. They just need to be exposed to this extraordinary opportunity to help.
5 Ways To Inspire Living Kidney Donation
#1: Be natural, yet informative. Share your circumstances in a relaxed and informative way. Give your listener’s time to digest your message and contemplate a way to help.
#2: Make it bigger than yourself. Weave the numbers of the nation’s kidney shortage into your message. Include the long, unpredictable and life-threatening wait. Optimize the internet. Start with your family and friends. Use email, websites, social media, blogs and bulletin boards to slowly expand your circle of influence.
#3: Keep it upbeat. Though your circumstances may be grim, share the hopeful side of receiving a transplant. Be enthusiastically optimistic about receiving the gift that can optimize your remaining years.
#4: Highlight benefits of having a transplant from a living kidney donor. Explain how living donors allow those in need to plan and schedule their transplant when they need it most. Underscore how living donor kidney transplants offer extended years of function and better outcomes.
#5: Encourage Action. Refer curious parties to reliable websites (NKF) and your transplant center for unbiased information and next steps. Encourage potential donors to educate their loved ones and seek their blessing before testing begins.
It may take a village of offers to find your ideal donor. Take the pledge to give it all you’ve got. Share your message with someone new at least once a day. Be a voice for the voiceless. Believe your best life is not only possible—it’s coming your way now.