Ethics Hero: Lindsey Bittorf

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. Continue reading

Michael De Beyer, Like Don Bedwell, An Exemplary Ethics Hero To Inspire Us

Mathis and hero

Writing about my favorite Ethics Hero of all time, Don Bedwell, in 2005, I began, “There are special and rare people whose ethical instincts are so pure and keen that they can make the rest of us feel inadequate.” Like Don Bedwell, Micheal De Beyer is such an individual.

Brittany Mathis, 19, works for De Beyer at his  Kaiserhof Restaurant and Biergarten in Montgomery, Texas, . Her mom and older sister work at the restaurant as well, so she would describe her boss as a family friend. In December, Brittany learned that she has a 1.5 inch brain tumor  She can’t afford to find out whether the tumor is benign or malignant, but her father died from a similar tumor years ago, so her situation is dire. She doesn’t have health insurance.

De Beyer has decided to sell his restaurant, which he opened more than 15 years ago and has an estimated worth of $2 million, to pay for whatever medical treatments are necessary to save Brittany’s life. “I’m not able to just sit by and let it happen,” De Beyer told a local paper. “I couldn’t live with myself; I would never be happy just earning money from my restaurant knowing that she needs help.” Continue reading

Flashback: “Ethics Test at McDonald’s”

Background: The McDonald’s beating and video story reminded me of another ethics essay arising out of a McDonald’s incident, one that I was personally involved in. This post first appeared on The Ethics Scoreboard in 2006, and reading it again, I realized it was one of the first times that I used the ethics alarms imagery that became the basis for this blog. The incident that inspired the essay still troubles me. I wish I could blame McDonald’s for the callousness that my 2006 experience and last week’s incident in Maryland exposed, but unfortunately, our problem relates to the Golden Rule, not the Golden Arches. Here is “Ethics Test at McDonald’s”:

Life gives ethics tests like pop quizzes. You often get no warning, and if you’re thinking about something else, you might not even realize the test is going on. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: East Haven Mayor April Capone Almon

I know what you are going to say.  There has to be an angle, right?

“Come on: fool me once, shame on you, fool me 67,896,432 times, shame on me. A mayor donates her kidney to a citizen of her city just because it’s a nice thing to do?  Who is gullible enough to believe that?

East Haven Mayor April Capone Almon, like many politicians, uses her Facebook page less for social networking than for political public relations, and to built those fundraising mailing lists, of course.  Almon was perusing the status updates of her more than 1,600 “friends” last year when she happened to read the status update of Carlos Sanchez, whom knew slightly. It said his friends and relatives had all been tested and couldn’t donate a kidney, which he needed desperately.

So  Almon, 35, got tested, was a match, and gave him her kidney. Continue reading