Dear Abby: Donation of kidney ends with loss of a friendship
Dear Abby: My friend “Virginia” and I have known each other for 11 years. Five years ago she went into renal failure and was on dialysis for three years. It was hard on her and she needed a kidney transplant. Her three healthy siblings refused to be tested as a possible match.
Virginia is on the young side, and she was in such a bad way I agreed to be tested. After several procedures it was determined I was a “close enough” match, so we decided to go for it. She was scared to death right before the surgery. I convinced her that even though things might be rough for a while, she would be glad she went through with it.
It has been 18 months now, and I have not seen or heard from Virginia since the day after the surgery. I called her a few times to make sure she was doing well. She never returned my calls and has completely dropped out of my life. She lives only four blocks away, so I know things are going OK for her. I figured I’d give her some space, but that space has turned into forever. I haven’t heard from her family either. They visited Virginia at the hospital, but didn’t stop in to see me just three rooms away.
How could I have been so wrong about someone I knew for so long? My husband says Virginia is an idiot and I should let it go. My therapist says I’ll have to “adjust to the injustice.” I would have donated to a complete stranger without hesitation. But Virginia wasn’t a stranger. I never expected to lose my friend along with my kidney. Can you please help me handle this? – Blindsided in New York
Dear Blindsided: I can see why you are hurt by the abrupt change in your friend’s behavior, and believe me, I empathize. The knee-jerk reaction of someone who hasn’t been through this would be to say what unfeeling and ungrateful people Virginia and her family are, because you literally saved her life.
However, it may help you to better understand what has happened if you consider that while you saved Virginia’s life, sometimes the burden of gratitude is more than someone can bear. For whatever reason, she may carry some guilt about owing you as much as she does, which is why she can no longer interact with you.
As to her family, that none of her siblings were willing to be tested as possible matches for her speaks volumes about them and the quality of their relationships, so stop feeling slighted.