New commenter Christine has a valuable personal experience to relate, as an individual who donated a kidney to a stranger herself. The main thrust of her post covers a topic that I have written on before but did not mention in this case, though I should have. Someone who performs a kind and generous act counting on rewards, copious thanks and gratitude, is doing it for the wrong reasons. The act itself is all that matters. Certainly, gratitude is the right way to respond to generosity, but an act done in anticipation of personal benefits isn’t really altruistic. It is opportunistic. This is a cliché to be sure, but true nonetheless: the generous act must be its own reward.
Here is Christine’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Chess Lesson: The Tale of the Kidney and the Ungrateful Boss.
I want to also commend Christine for following the comment policies, which many of the new visitors here who commented on this post did not do. I prefer full named on posts, but I only require that I am informed of every commenter’s real name and have a valid e-mail address within a reasonable time of their first submitted comment. One way or the other virtually all of the regular commenters here have managed to do this, and it makes a difference, even in my responses. I regard such commenters as collaborators , not just marauders, and most of the time, I treat them accordingly: tgt, Steven, Lianne, Margy, Glenn, Tim, both Michaels, Karl, Neil, Karla, Rick, blameblakeart, Barry, gregory, Eric, Curmudgeon, Eeyore, Julian, King Kool, Joshua, Jay, Tom, Bill, Danielle, Elizabeth, Patrice, Ed, Bob, The Ethics Sage and Jeff…I know there are others. Thanks to all of you for letting me know who you are.
“I donated a kidney to someone I’d never met in 2007. At the time, I was working for a small community newspaper. (I was a newbie by comparison. Had only been there a year whereas most of the staff were long-timers.) When some of my co-workers learned of my plan, which involved a trip downstate at considerable expense, they did a series of fundraisers. Overall, I think they raised about $10,000, which paid all my travel and living expenses during my “tour de donation.”
“About 18 months later, I quit the job and I have since completely lost touch with everyone at the paper. Should I have remained there out of gratitude? Without their help, I may have had to back out of the donation.
“I am transient by nature. As such, I have also failed to stay in touch with the recipient. She, likewise, is similarly disinterested because life goes on.
“I have also divorced the man I was married to at the time of my donation, even though he accompanied me on my mission and told me every day how “proud” he was of my donation. I have since taken up with a fellow living donor. (Not that that’s relevant, really. It just is.)
“I experienced a massive amount of depression after the donation. Should I blame someone for that? If so, who and to what extent and what should be my compensation for having acquired this condition?
“Personally, I am embarrassed for Stevens. She undermines her case by sitting for media interviews, crying for the camera, using over-the-top quips, etc. Ethical questions of this nature should not be settled by viewers of Fox News, whose headline reads, “Kidney donor wants organ back from boss who fired her.”