I regard people who contribute kidneys to near strangers as residing in a special category of Ethics Hero, in the exemplary ethics category….maybe the exemplary exemplary ethics category. Considering Don Bedwell, the first individual I learned about who engaged in this extraordinary act of sacrifice, kindness, and compassion, I began my 2005 post, “There are special and rare people whose ethical instincts are so pure and keen that they can make the rest of us feel inadequate.” Bedwell, a traveling businessman, donated his kidney to a waitress who often served him at his favorite Cleveland restaurant when he was passing through the city on business. The second altruistic organ donor was East Haven, Connecticut Mayor April Capone Almon, who gifted one of her kidneys to a desperate constituent she barely knew.
Wisconsin police officer Lindsey Bittorf is the most recent example of this special breed of ethics hero. She saw a Facebook post from a local mother pleading for someone to rescue might her 8-year-old son, Jackson Arneson, who needed a kidney. The boy’s family and friends had been tested and none were a match. Bittorf didn’t know the child or the family, but got herself tested on a whim. Doctors told her she was an unusually good match,considering that she was not related to the boy.
Last week, Bittorf rang the doorbell at Jackson’s home to surprise his family with the good news, ABC News reported. Jackson could have one of her healthy kidneys.The police officer told Jackson’s mom, Kristi Goll, that it was an “early Mother’s Day gift.” That’s a bit better than flowers, you’ll have to admit.
The transplant surgery is scheduled for June 22.
“I took an oath to serve and protect our community, and now my kidney’s going to serve and protect you,” she told Jackson, who was born with a kidney condition known as Posterior Urethral Valves. Bittorf, who is also a mom, now says “I would hope that someone would save my child’s life.” This is, of course, the Golden Rule.
Like Bedwell and Almon before her, Lindsey Bittorf has given us all an inspiring, and challenging, ethics role model to follow.