I donated a kidney to a stranger. It shouldn’t be this tough for others to give

DATE: November 16, 2023

By Shmuly Yanklowitz
AZ Central, Opinion

For many years I debated: Should I be an organ donor?

As a faith leader who regularly speaks about the value of life, and as a healthy individual with an interest in organ donation, I was genuinely excited about the possibility to save another person.

Nonetheless, it was a very big decision and one I did not take lightly.

While I knew the rewards outweighed the risks, there was a lot to think about regarding the financial costs I’d incur, the amount of time the process would take and the impact on my family.

But my desire to save another life prevailed, and I will never regret my decision in the summer of 2015 to donate to my recipient, Idan Azran, a young man in his 20s who had been orphaned at a young age and had no immediate family around him.

There are many people out there like me who want to become living kidney donors. But there are hurdles we must overcome if we want to increase that number.

As a country, we must ease the burden on transplant donors and recipients and help them navigate the donation process.

More than 5,000 people in the U.S. die each year waiting for a kidney donation. Each day, 17 lives are lost. 

And for those waiting, their final days are spent on painful and expensive dialysis treatments. So, what’s the holdup to making impactful improvements to the donation process?

For many potential donors, steep costs are a serious barrier to moving forward in the process. I was not reimbursed financially for the time and testing it took to donate a kidney. I and my family were in a position to take on these expenses myself, but many others aren’t so fortunate.  

There’s also little guidance and education out there about how to navigate the donation process, which can deter people who might feel overwhelmed about where to begin.

I was blessed to work with an outstanding nonprofit that helped me through the process, but many others who can’t find this help understandably walk away from the process.

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