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West Orange Woman Donates Kidney to Stranger

Diane Allen, mother of two, says she hopes to show how safe the operation has become.

 

Fourth-generation West Orange resident Diane Allen is preparing herself to donate a kidney next week to a stranger.

As a who takes a holistic approach to her work, Allen said it does not seem a coincidence she was drawn to donate a kidney as it is believed to be the source of the essential life force for existence, or chi, in Eastern medicine. 

“It feels good to be able to put that kind of energy out there,” said Allen, “and I have already been the recipient of so much good will.”

Allen said while she eventually came to the decision to be a donor, the idea germinated from her family. Four years ago, Allen was remarried to her now husband, David. With two sons of her own and now the addition of two daughters from her husband, Allen said she and her husband decided not to have another child. 

“We are kind of a Brady Bunch family,” said Allen with a laugh. “We are a modern family.” 

However, the desire to give life was still there, and Allen said donating her kidney was a way of filling that desire.

“What motivated me to do this,” said Allen, “was the idea of [wanting] to manifest that love that we have: not wanting to have a child but wanting to put forth life.” 

It all began to fall in place during a routine medical check-up. A doctor suggested Allen go to a kidney specialist due to an abnormality which turned out to be innocuous. While in the doctor’s office, Allen said she saw a sign that moved her: “Love is good deeds.”

Right then and there, Allen asked about donating a kidney and the process was underway. 

The surgery will be done at nearby St. Barnabas Medical Center, whose Living Donor Institute is one of the top centers in the country. The surgery will be on Tuesday. 

Allen does not know whom she is donating the kidney to. The only thing she knows about the donor that he or she is at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. 

However, Allen said she and the recipient can meet after the operation if they choose. 

When questioned about why she is donating a kidney to a stranger, Allen was quick to say, “As far as I’m concerned, it is just a friend I haven’t met yet. It is serendipity.”

And Allen’s good deed is not only limited to one person. She is one of four other donors in a chain that will allow five people to receive kidneys. 

As her operation date draws near, Allen said she is not as nervous as people would believe. There is a common fear associated with a kidney transplant operations that it is dangerous and will leave large scars, said Allen. 

But that is not the case anymore. The surgery is now minimally invasive and done through small incisions. She expects to only stay overnight at the hospital. 

And that is one of her goals: to spread the word that donating a kidney is a safe procedure and something that more people should do considering there are tens of thousands of people on waiting lists for kidney transplants.

“My overarching life goal is to create the greatest possible good in the world and the least amount of harm while living my life,” said Allen. “This is something I can do to show people that, ‘Hey, you can do this.’”

To spread the word, she expects to write a memoir about the experience. In addition, she is looking forward to speaking to others about her experience through Believe, Inspire, Grow (B.I.G.), a business support group and networking organization for women. 

“It is one thing to put good karma out there,” said Allen, "but to walk the talk" is something else.  

The Bus stops Here August 17, 2012 at 10:16 AM
Wonderful story !
MSS August 18, 2012 at 01:30 PM
I was really moved by this story until I read she was writing a memoir about it. Oh well. While her motivations are not as pure as I had hoped, she still saved a life and is a braver, dare I say better person than I am.
Lori August 19, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Dear MSS, Don't be so sure about her motivations. We can not judge peoples hearts by what we see or read all the time. Just maybe she's writing a memoir to get the word out and maybe motivate other people to do such an unselfish thing as going under the knife to remove a body part her body does need. Can survive without, most likely yes, but even then you never know. I sometimes wonder if I'm being selfish by holding on to both of my kidneys not knowing if one day I may need to donate one for my husband with kidney disease/high blood pressure/chronic anemia. Maybe I could save someone else's life in the process? My fear is that if my husband ever needs one there will be nobody out there willing to donate. Something to think about. It's not like just handing over some money.....
MSS August 19, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Yes Lori W, you are right. I guess I am used to thinking the worst of people. If her memoir inspires others to do it, she has saved more lives than one. Even after I posted I started rethinking it and thought maybe I was being too negative.
Lori August 19, 2012 at 04:47 PM
@MSS We are all guilty of the same thing. So much bad news in the world it's hard to respond positively when there is good news. We all have acted negatively at one time or another. What's important is that we self reflect and try to put thins in a different perspective. You've already done that :) imagine how much better the world would be if everyone followed suit!
Beverly Meaux August 21, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Today is the day...Diane, we send our love, support and strength to you and the circle. You are doing an amazing thing!
Randy Rabney August 21, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Such an extraordinary story!
Judie Hurtado August 21, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Diane is an amazingly selfish woman. I met her and wrote an interview with her last year if you want to learn more about her: http://westorange.patch.com/articles/massage-does-the-body-good. Diane, I am sending you lots of positive thoughts and Reiki energy to you, my friend!!
Janet Saulter-Hemmer August 22, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Are you kidding???? Writing a memoir to encourage other people to give the gift of life - and SAVE ANOTHER PERSON'S LIFE - is an awesome thing to do! Why in the world would you think this is bad????
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