Rick Ruzzamenti’s selfless action of donating one of his kidneys to a total stranger prompted the initiation of the world’s longest ever transplant donor chain joining together 60 lives, over a period of 6 months, in 17 hospitals and 11 states.
Rick Ruzzamenti, a 44 year old from Riverside, California, on an impulse decided to donate one of his kidneys to a total stranger. He was inspired by his yoga studio desk clerk who had recently donated her kidney to an acquaintance. He wanted to do something similar and called up Riverside Community Hospital to find out how he could go about it. Thus began a chain of 60 operations ending with Donald C. Terry Jr. in Illinois receiving an immunologically-matched kidney to end the donor chain.
The willingness of Rick Ruzzamenti to donate a kidney without expecting anything in return fuelled and built the momentum for further such selfless acts. Donors donated their kidneys to total strangers after realizing that they could not donate to their loved ones. Their loved ones in turn, received compatible kidneys as part of the chain, from strangers.
For Rick the path was far from easy. He had to undergo psychological screening and a whole lot of medical tests when he approached the hospital for donating one kidney. Since he reiterated that he was neither seeking fortune nor fame, it was difficult for people to believe in his motive. He feels that he owes his decision to Buddhism, that he is a follower of. Another fact that helped in Rick’s decision was that he was somewhat unemployed, thanks to the recession, and had enough time off to recuperate after the operation.
Rick underwent unusual levels of pain after the donation. He was put on Demerol. Amidst Demerol induced hallucinations, he would often ball up in painful agony. Even though his Vietnamese wife, My Nhanh was against his decision, she was besides him throughout his days in the hospital.
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