It takes a lot to donate your organ to a total stranger

This week's cover story is an interesting one.

A man opens up about why he became a living donor to a boy he knew only from reading a report in this newspaper.

Would you do the same?

It takes a very strong sense of altruism to do so.

A donor has to go through several tests, both physical and psychological, to ensure he is doing so for the right motivations.

In this case, he read about the small boy who was born without a real shot at life, and decided that he could do something about it.

The man seems almost casual about his sacrifice.

I have to admit that my jaw dropped when I first heard about the case.

Would I do the same?

Living organ donation presents a unique ethical dilemma: The life or continued good health of a healthy person is potentially put at risk to save or improve the life of a patient.

I could potentially stomach the risk for a loved one, but a total stranger? That requires an extraordinary act of charity. And I'm sure many readers will probably agree with me.

But this response might have to be relooked as waiting lists of sick people grow longer.

In Australia, kidney donations from altruistic living donors helped fuel a rise in organ transplant rates - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data reveals donations from living donors rose from 78 to 326 between 1991 and 2009 - but still the boost in benevolence is insufficient to meet the need for kidneys there.

Here, as of March, there are about 448 patients with kidney failure waiting for a new lease of life. I salute the men and women who work with bereaved families to harvest their loved one's organs.

The Spouse, who works in critical care at a tertiary hospital here, sometimes comes home with absolutely heartbreaking stories about how families cannot face the prospect of death and it's even harder when it comes to organ donation.

It's a bit to chew on.

What do you think? Would people have the right motivations to do organ donations? Should donors and recipients meet?

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