Kidneys across America

Here are a few brand-new world records worth knowing about. Most Ghandi lookalikes gathered in one place: 485. Highest number of charitable causes supported by a workplace through payroll donations: 975. And number of kidneys donated in the world’s longest transplant chain: a whopping 30.

If you’ve never heard of a transplant chain, it’s a bit like a take-one-and-pass-it-on arrangement. Buddy needs a kidney, his brother or wife or dad would give him one if they could, but their tissues aren’t compatible. So they promise instead to donate a kidney to a total stranger, just as long as Buddy gets the goods from someone else. And so on down the line.

The success of a transplant chain depends on no one chickening out. But it also requires a good Samaritan to start it off. In this case, it was a Californian and converted Buddhist named Rick Ruzzamenti who talked to a recent kidney donor at his yoga studio. Two days after that conversation, Rick put his own kidney up for grabs.

People don’t need two kidneys, and the odds are extremely low that one will fail after the other is donated. A kidney donated live will function several years longer than a kidney harvested from a cadaver, in part because it’s a healthier organ and the transplant is planned out well in advance. Complications for the donor are very rare. All these factors make live kidney donations a solid investment.

When Rick Ruzzamenti’s kidney became available, it meant that 29 other kidneys transplants could now be put in motion. In each case, donors were saving the lives of strangers with the understanding that their loved ones would thrive as a result.

Donor Rebecca Clark of Florida admitted in a New York Times article that after her husband got his kidney she knew she could back out of giving hers, but she quickly dropped the idea. “I believe in karma, and that would have been some really bad karma,” she said. You’re not kidding, sister.

Previously, the world’s longest kidney transplant chain was 23. This new record blows it out of the water. Sixty Americans agree: Rick, you rock.

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