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March 15, 2004     500 Words

Franciscan Gains Life Lessons by Being a Living Kidney Donor

CINCINNATI—Being an organ donor is a hugely beneficial form of giving, but it's not usually fulfilling. We cannot usually reap the satisfaction of helping another when we donate our hearts, lungs, corneas, skin and muscles. Patrick Sullivan, O.F.M.Cap., of New York, wasn't completely satisfied when he agreed, in the 70s, to be just an organ donor. In 2001, after reading an article in The New York Times Magazine about the need for kidneys and how many people die while on the waiting list, Father Patrick decided not to wait until death to give life.

The giving spirit of Father Kevin is featured in the April issue of St. Anthony Messenger in an article entitled, "I'd Like to Say: Why I Became a Living Kidney Donor." Father Kevin details his experience with organ donation and how vital it is for us to give, before or after death. After March 21, the article will be posted at:

God was generous in giving us two kidneys. If one is removed, the other grows a bit, picks up the slack and does the job. Although surgery always carries risks, Father

Kevin shelved his fears and gave of himself—literally. I was faced with some alarming facts about the selling of donor organs and the number of people who die while waiting for transplants," Father Kevin says. "Since I was in great health, I probably could live without one of my kidneys."

And some recipients cannot wait. Many who are on a kidney transplant list spend two or three years on dialysis. Some people die waiting. The more desperate often turn to brokers, who send them to foreign countries to do business with poor people willing to sell their organs. Most living donors give to a relative, which can be an easier match.

Father Kevin went through the proper channels to donate. After physical and psychological testing, he was approved to be a donor. A recipient who would be a good match was found. After the surgery, Father Kevin was sore and groggy, but deeply satisfied that his kidney would be in a welcome place. Within a week, Father Kevin was up and around, celebrating Mass, happy in the knowledge that the recipient of his kidney is alive and well. Since the operation, Father Kevin has met other living kidney donors, who each share in his advocacy, his passion and his joy in helping others.

Now Father Kevin sees life with different eyes. When celebrating Mass, the words now take on new meaning for the generous friar. "I could barely get the words out when it came time to say again, 'This is my body which will be given up for you.…This is the cup of my blood…It will be shed for you.' It meant something more to me now."


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