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A Piece of My Mind
January 12, 2011

The Gift: Hy’shqe Siam

JAMA. 2011;305(2):130-131. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1974

“ Are you crazy?” asked a friend.

“I will light a candle for you at Mass,” said my mother.

“Your grandfather died of kidney disease at age 35,” a disapproving relative said—even though neither my father nor I had kidney disease.

I had just told them that, after careful review of all the evidence about its safety, I was applying to be a living kidney donor—a nondirected donor, to whomever needed and matched it.

The idea of my being a living kidney donor first came to me on December 6, 2007, while telling someone that Penny Carol, a Lummi Indian patient I had cared for who had donated a kidney to her sister in 1985, “was an example for American Indian people.” I had said that before, but I finally connected the dots that day: she was an example for me too.

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