Opinion: Honouring kidney donors on World Kidney Day

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By Judith Morrison

World Kidney Day stands as a poignant reminder of the silent crisis gripping millions worldwide: kidney disease.

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Amid the array of health challenges we confront, kidney disease often remains unnoticed, its profound impact overshadowed. As someone intimately acquainted with its realities, I implore us all to seize this day as a catalyst for change — a clarion call to elevate awareness of kidney transplants and address the pressing issues within kidney care.

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Every year, World Kidney Day underscores the pivotal role our kidneys play in maintaining overall health and well-being. It not only raises awareness about kidney health but also underscores the remarkable generosity of and need for kidney donors globally. These unsung heroes, through their selfless act of donation, offer a second chance at life to those grappling with kidney failure — a truly remarkable gift.

Kidney donation epitomizes altruism, embodying the finest traits of humanity. It’s a decision often deeply personal, driven by a desire to positively affect the life of another. Whether donating to a loved one or a stranger, kidney donors exemplify compassion, empathy and solidarity.

The benefit of kidney donation cannot be overstated. For those confronting kidney failure, a transplant represents the best chance for a longer, healthier life, liberating them from the burdens of dialysis — the harsh reality of kidney disease treatment. While undeniably life-saving, dialysis offers only a temporary solution for a chronic condition, underscoring the urgent need for innovation in kidney care. Nephrology must catch up with other medical disciplines, prioritizing research and development to explore alternative treatments yielding better outcomes for patients like myself. Living kidney donation is a transformative gift that extends beyond physical benefits, providing hope and renewed optimism for the future.

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Let’s raise our voices to advocate for change, spotlighting the significance of kidney transplantation and the dire need for more donors. We must also confront misconceptions and stigma surrounding kidney disease and transplantation, educating the public about the facts and dispelling myths to encourage more individuals to consider organ donation. It’s crucial to debunk the belief that living kidney donation dramatically alters donors’ lives; in reality, most go on to lead healthy lives after surgery.

Fortunately, the number of kidney donors is increasing thanks to heightened awareness and education about the importance of organ donation. Organizations and individuals globally work tirelessly to promote organ donation and support donors throughout the process. However, there remains a gap in understanding what it entails to be a donor.

It’s vital to acknowledge and celebrate the extraordinary individuals who choose to donate a kidney and encourage others, at the very least, to sign their donor cards. Their selflessness and compassion serve as beacons, reminding us of the profound effect we can have on others’ lives through acts of kindness and generosity.

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As we honour kidney donors, let’s renew our commitment to promoting kidney health and raising awareness about organ donation’s importance. Together, we can ensure more individuals receive the life-saving transplants they desperately need, ensuring the gift of organ donation continues to inspire hope and healing globally.

Most importantly, let’s centre the voices of those directly affected by kidney disease and transplantation — the patients, caregivers and donor families whose stories underscore the human toll of this condition. Their experiences should guide our efforts, reminding us of the urgency of this cause.

Reflecting on my own journey with kidney disease, I’m reminded of the resilience and courage within each of us. Let’s harness that resilience and translate it into action.

Let’s use this World Kidney Day as a springboard for change — a stride toward a brighter, healthier future for all.

Judy Morrison is the founder of Kindred Kidney and a kidney patient. She was matched with a donor last year but the donor backed out at the last minute.

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