Kidney Donor Gives Organ to Stranger on a Whim


Kidney Donor Bounced Back Quickly

Transplantation was scheduled for June 16, 2011.

"I was the first to go under the proverbial knife," said Young. "When I awoke from the anesthesia and was groggy, she came out. She said, 'hello,' and it was very meaningful and heartfelt."

Young had a long difficult recovery -- the kidney was nearly rejected at the onset.

Oyler, who had a less-invasive laproscopic procedure, was up and feeling normal within days. The only physical reminder of her gift is a two-inch scar on her bikini line.

When they woke up Oyler in the recovery room, nurses wheeled her by Young. "It was one of those moments, I felt, 'Whoa, I helped this guy get a second lease on life.'"

In the end, on a subway ride recently, the pair realized they had much in common -- a deep commitment to education and social justice.

After getting an Ivy League education, Young returned to Harlem to set up an organization to help young African Americans climb the mobility track at good private schools and colleges.

"I came to [Teachers College] to do racial justice," he said. "It's what gives me energy and passion, particularly working with families."

He tells aspiring men, "You are the leaders and your community is depending on you."

Oyler, herself, had worked in with African-Americans on Chicago's South Side and said, "I felt good about his passion."

She and her wife have also committed to adopting an older child.

Now, seven months later, both Oyler and Young have healed from surgery.

"It wasn't actually that bad," said Oyler.

Transplant experts agree there are no statistical disadvantages for donors, given that they are so healthy to begin with to pass screening.

Young said he is feeling "better and better" and is more conscious of what he eats, trying to control his diabetes."

Oyler is "crazy busy," but she plans to invite Young to dinner. They have begun regular email contact since the surgery.

"It's weird to think there is a piece of my body walking around in someone else's body," she said.

Now, she tells her story to anyone who will listen -- about the importance of live kidney donation. And Young, also inspired by her act of love, has decided he, too, will offer to be a donor.

That, said Cronin, is also possible as there is an overwhelming need for other organs like lungs, hearts, skin and corneas.

In the end, Oyler's wife and her parents supported her decision.

"Everybody was kind of pleased I helped a guy out," she said. "I don't think I feel altruistic. My joy is more about helping people -- and this is just a body part."

But Young, raised a Baptist and still religious, said he knows in his heart Oyler's gift was a "selfless act."

"She's a very altruistic person," he said. "I also think it was fate and that God was involved with this. The stars or the moon or the planets were aligned. I don't know if she is an agnostic or an atheist, but I think she has a very spiritual aspect -- a grounding in some humanistic perspective."

"She is a really, really wonderful person," said Young. "I am so grateful to her."

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