Would I donate a kidney to save the life of a co-worker?
Would a co-worker donate a kidney to save my life?
I pondered these questions as I interviewed Sunitha Gokavi, a Rialto Teachers Association member who donated a kidney to save the life of fellow RTA member Keith Shattuck, who also teaches at Casey Elementary School.
Their story appears in the November issue of the California Educator. What amazed me the most is that they were not close friends. They were acquaintances who said "hello" and nodded to each other in the hallway. Yet she gave him a kidney.
At least six teachers and their spouses at Casey Elementary School attempted to donate a kidney for Keith. That amazed me even more. All of them were ruled out for health reasons, so Sunitha stepped up, even though she barely knew him. Teachers, indeed, are givers in the truest sense of the word.
Sunitha donated a kidney as part of a “paired exchange” donor program. Under this kind of “pay it forward” plan, a donor who is incompatible with a designated recipient agrees to donate their kidney to a stranger, in exchange for the designated recipient receiving a kidney from another stranger. Keith’s kidney came from an altruistic college student in St. Louis, who started the chain. Sunitha doesn’t know who got her kidney, but she knows it saved that person’s life as well as Keith’s life.
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