Thursday, May 18, 2006

Virginia Postrel is a real American Hero

She donated a kidney to a friend who needed one. Just like that. And she tells about it with an enviable aw shucks attitude. What she did is not as important as her style. She is a paragon of modesty about doing something truly heroic. Her husband nust know better than anyone, with the posible exception of her friend with a new kidney, what a remarkable wife he has.

I’ve spent a good bit of my life trying to save the world, mostly by working to beat back bad government policies, including some that would have stifled medical research. But even when your side wins, the victory is incremental and rarely permanent. And people of goodwill dedicated to the same good cause can be awfully contentious about how to achieve theigoals.

In this case, there was something reassuring about the idea that benefit wouldn’t depend at all on my talents, persuasiveness, or intellect. It would be simple. All I had to do was show up. In middle age, I’ve realized that I can’t save the world. But maybe I could save Sally. Someone had to.
Contrary to what most people think, living with one kidney is basically the same as living with two. The remaining organ grows to take up the slack. Someone with a single organ is no more vulnerable to kidney failure than someone with a pair, because most kidney disease attacks both at once. The exceptions are injuries, of course, and cancer. I was willing to take my chances.

I am finally coming to the end of her challenging book. The timing of this event underscores better than any statistic the power and importance of being a dynamist, not a stasist. These are the people who make a difference in the world and think little of it. I guess you could say she put her kidney where her mouth is.

(Well, she made a pun using visceral, so I can mess around with the language, too.)

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