Doctors help save lives on a daily basis. However, this one went above and beyond in a single act of kindness.
As a kidney specialist, nephrologist Dr. Aji Djamali has spoken to countless organ donors over the years. Those conversations left him inspired.
“I was always in awe of their courage and how they were stepping up and being selfless and going through something they didn’t have to, to help another human being,” he said according to the Portland Press Herald.
It was the sort of sacrifice he aspired to make one day. However, the timing hadn’t been quite right. Djamali explained to People that he and his wife agreed that they would wait until their three children had grown up.
As destiny would have it, one of Dr. Djamali’s close friends and personal patients would provide him the perfect opportunity.
An exclusive reported by Medpage Today recounted Dr. Djamali’s eight-year friendship with John Jartz. The two first met when Jartz had been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) at UW Health Transplant Center in Madison, Wisconsin. What started off as a doctor-patient relationship quickly evolved into a deeper bond due to “instant chemistry,” which lasted even after Jartz was transferred to a different nephrologist.
Then the time finally came for Jartz to need a kidney transplant. However, the 68-year-old had a rare blood type and faced a five- to seven-year wait for a kidney from a cadaver donor, reported People. Jartz likely didn’t have that long.
Djamali told his friend that, luckily, a donor was already available.
“Oh yeah, who?” Jartz urgently asked.
The 53-year-old physician answered: “me.”
“I lost it because, essentially, what someone is telling you when they say they want to be your donor, is, ‘I want to save your life,'” Jartz told MedPage Today. “It just is really meaningful.”
All three of Djamali’s children had already graduated and moved out, making the timing perfect. Plus he had a compatible blood type and could provide Jartz an organ from a living donor, which research has shown can exponentially improve survival rates.
Penn Medicine states that the shortage of kidneys available for transplantation in the United State is a “public health crisis,” with nearly 5,000 people dying each year while remaining on the waitlist for a door. Out of those 90,000 patients needing the procedure, only 20,000 transplants are performed annually.
Dr. Djamali hopes that the story’s widespread attention motivates others to consider donating as well. “Half of the reason was to help John,” Djamali shared with People. “But the other reason was to encourage people to help others, to inspire them to consider stepping up and helping the 90,000-plus patients across the nation who are on waiting lists to get a transplant.”
They say giving is receiving, but this takes the sentiment to a whole new level.