June 25, 2010
By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA (Journal Group Link International)
CHICAGO (JGLi) – The stranger, who donated a healthy kidney to Filipino American Myra de la Vega, said having his tooth pulled by a dentist is more painful than having his kidney removed.
Pitching his generous act of giving away his kidney as more of a Christian charity than a family obligation, Daniel S. Coyne is telling others with healthy kidneys that donating one of their two kidneys is not just extending the life of another. It also lessens the pain and gives comfort to those people with renal failure.
Coyne, a special education teacher of the Chicago Public School, invoked the name of Jesus who inspired him to help others “whether I know them or not. And when needs present themselves like this one, I certainly felt called to help.”
He added the Goshen College affiliated with Mennonites that he attended in Indiana still has a very strong influence on him because of its motto: culture to service. Its goal is not really to climb the corporate ladder or get the best job, he said, but to find a life style or career that will help make the world a little bit better.
Mr. Coyne, who is in his early fifties, said he was moved to donate his kidney to Ms. De La Vega because “I want to help her live. I was moved by her predicament with her kidney failure. And with the dialysis, I understand, is very difficult, grueling process – a lifestyle that is very expensive to maintain – and the medication. I also want to improve her lifestyle.”
NEW HOPE AND REASON TO LIVE
He said if Myra, a native of Calamba, Laguna in the Philippines, finds new hope and reason to live, she would be able to see her children graduate from high school and college and become married and would be able to hold her grandchildren on her lap someday.
Mr. Coyne hopes and prays that many others, who are suffering like Myra, could also find a match with somebody so they, too, would be able to live and have a better quality of life.
When asked if he was scared at all of the kidney donation, Mr. Coyne said he did a little research of his own. He came to the conclusion that the longitudinal study of kidney donors over the last 30 years showed that the life expectancy of kidney donors is the same as the general population of those who do not donate.
There is a slight chance that in some operation a donor would die due to some bleeding or accident but it is rare. Based on statistics, it is more dangerous to drive a car on a highway that this operation, he said.
Because of the publicity generated by his donation, Coyne said some of his friends have now checked off in the donor’s section of their driver’s license that they are also donating their kidneys or other organs. One even asked him, “what am I doing with this extra kidney?”
He said he has been checking off the donor’s section of his driver’s license since 1976 and every renewal of his driver’s license.
Mr. Coyne said he is now feeling great. He was just off for one week after the operation. He is back to his normal eating habits and had stopped his pain killing medications three days after the operation on March 26, 2010.
He said his wife, Emily, a registered nurse, and his children Julia, 11, and Isaac, who is starting high school next year, all approved of his donation. They did not know Myra, who is their neighbor and a grocery store employee.
ORGAN IS NOT FOR SALE
At the operation, there was laparoscopy procedure, where they bore three small holes in his body used on surgical tools and an incision on his beltline that were done while he was asleep.
When he woke up, he felt a little discomfort from seal gas and abdominal cavity. And he was walking less than 24 hours after the surgery. He did 20 laps around the hospital. “Pulling a tooth is more painful than giving up my kidney,” he said.
Both his supervisor and his co-employeeswere supportive of him. His supervisor even suggested of giving him a one-year paid leave, by asking his co-employes to donate sick leaves. He said he was laughing because he only needed two to three days off.
Although, he does not have a change in his eating habit, Coyne said he has now found a new taste for Filipino food – “Filipino feast – that was served on us by Myra’s family when we went to visit her.”
When asked if he harbored thoughts of selling his kidney, Coyne said, “I believe the human body is sacred – made in God’s image. It is not for sale thru slavery or prostitution or otherwise. To sell an organ is unethical and immoral.
“I believe, helping another live, should be unconditional and free. Certainly, the decision to donate kidney should be done thru prayers and family support.”
He said the average annual cost of dialysis patient is about $500,000 a year; and most dialysis patients are in dialysis for five years before they get organs. So the average cost is $3-$5-M. “By giving my kidney, I was able to save $3-M for Myra.”
Myra’s insurance covered her cost and his cost of the operations. But since there is limit, the U.S. government kicks in at some point.
Myra paid 100 percent and actual operation cost $100,000. His preliminary test cost tens of thousands of dollar. Lab work was $10,000.
There are 85,000 dialyses patients and the cost of keeping those patients dialysis is in trillions of dollars. “If we can find 100,000 donors, it will keep the cost keeping those in dialysis in trillion others,” he said.
One way to look at the donation from Christian perspective, Coyne said is that it will lead to a better quality of life. At the end of the interview, this reporter asked Mr. Coyne if he was aware that as a non-resident of Chicago, his employment at the Chicago Public School could be questioned. He said he is still waiting for the decision of the Chicago Public School on what to do with his non-resident situation. (firstname.lastname@example.org)