This man told us why he donated one of his kidneys to a complete stranger

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Wednesday 03 June 2015 15:20
Celebrities

Joe Slater is one of only about 100 British people who have anonymously donated their kidneys in the last year.

After making a full recovery from his operation in January, the 28-year-old has explained why he wanted to donate one of his organs to a complete stranger and offered advice to anyone thinking of doing the same.

In an interview with i100.co.uk, Slater said he first came across the concept of altruistic donation after seeing something on the news a few years back and thinking "wow, that’s an interesting thing to do".

Further research revealed that with an estimated 6,000 people waiting for a donor in the UK, current demand far outstrips supply.

Slater explained that his first move was to make contact with his local transplant centre in Edinburgh. After going through a series of meetings and medical tests over the space of a few months he was given the go ahead in the new year.

They were always very clear there was no obligation on me at any point in the proceedings, or that I had to keep going ahead with it.

The PhD student went into hospital a day before the operation and after trouble-free keyhole surgery was released just three days later.

He decided to keep the decision largely private apart from a few close friends and relatives, who were "hesitant at first but very supportive". Even then it was "an announcement" rather than a consultation.

Asked what advice he would offer others wanting to do the same, Slater explained that he would "recommend seriously considering" but understood it's not something everyone would want to do.

I went to an event last month about altruistic kidney donation and met several people who had done it. All of them were considerably older than me and they were like ‘wow, you’re so young’.

I said to them, 'well, in the next five years I might be married and wanting to start a family' and all that. I don’t think I’d want to do it by that point, if I had dependants. Even the very low risk there is in the procedure.

Ultimately, Slater said he's happy not knowing who received his treasured right kidney.

I think it might just be a little awkward. But I mean, what do you say? ‘Can I buy you a drink?’ I’m sure whoever has it is making good use of it anyway.

Last year Slater also donated stem cells, and after returning to St Andrews to continue with his studies in moral philosophy, he gave blood again for the first time in months last week. “That’s a regular occurrence,” he explained. “Because of the kidney thing and the stem cells the year before I hadn’t given blood for a while until last week. But it was good to be back on that.”

He estimates that he has given blood around 20 times and would like to hit the 25 mark in the next couple of years. "That’d be nice. Nothing too ambitious," he said.

Some of my friends have told me that although they support me, I’d better not give anything else away.

You can read more about Joe's transplant over on his blog.

More: Meet the woman whose new kidney came via her local paper

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