herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

PARADISE IS A KIND-HEARTED Stranger

Doing good - and getting credit for it. That's modern charity for you. Up to this week, when a man intriguingly named Paradise -Johnny Paradise - was inspired to make a gift. Not of money, but of a body part.

Johnny Paradise watched TV coverage of GAA star Joe Brolly's gift of a kidney to a friend who desperately needed it.

The kidney didn't take, but the altruism did, big time.

"I watched the documentary and didn't really know what I was watching," Johnny Paradise remembers, "I thought it was a remarkable thing to do. I couldn't get over it. It blew me away."

He joined a queue. Thousands of us were moved to a new view of Joe Brolly by his act.

We were stunned at the selflessness of a feisty, argumentative and often just plain ornery man. You have to hand it to Brolly, we said, and we didn't forget it. We just didn't do anything about it.

Johnny Paradise did something about it. He paid attention to information about kidneys.

Each of us gets two of them. Most of us can do nicely, thank you, with just one. Right, Johnny Paradise decided. I'm going to give up a kidney.

Except that he couldn't. Not under Irish law, which says you can't be chopping bits off yourself and giving them away.

You can - and should - carry an organ donor card, which means that if you're unlucky enough to be killed before your time, your organs can be given to other people whose lives may be saved or immeasurably improved by them. But donate an organ while you're alive is not possible.

DONATION

It was the ultimate free pass for the would-be donor. Except that he decided he didn't want the free pass.

"I realised that there was someone out there - put aside the fact that you don't know the person - that right now is in immense suffering," he said.

"There is someone out there on death's door, deeply miserable who probably won't have too much longer to live and you can change that."

So he took himself north of the border, were the law allows live organ donation, went through all the tests, persuaded his family that this was worth doing, and went ahead and did it.

The fact that he was donating a kidney to a complete stranger, rather than someone he knew, made perfect sense to him.

Not knowing the recipient didn't make them any less deserving of a kidney.

It was arguably the ultimate generosity: kindness to a complete stranger. That stranger, and their family, face a wondrous Christmas as a result.

But the rest of us will have a better Christmas, too - just knowing that this kind of selflessness still exists.

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