Melissa Arlio Donates Kidney To Start Altruistic Chain
Melissa Arlio is an upbeat, healthy 26-year-old from a big Italian family in Wayne, NJ. She grew up playing sports and ran her first marathon in 2009. With nothing to gain and a good deal to lose (namely, her job) Arlio elected to undergo surgery and donate one of her kidneys to a complete stranger last March. She did so in order to start an altruistic kidney chain through the National Kidney Registry.
“I’ve always been probably overly empathetic to a fault,” Arlio said the other day, now a little over two months into her recovery. “God gave me a healthy body, how could I not share that with someone who needs it, at very little detriment to myself?”
Family and friends aren’t always a perfect match for the sick loved ones they want to help, so these chains incentivize strangers to help one another.
A chain might go like this: an altruistic donor gives a kidney to a stranger, and in exchange for that kidney, a healthy friend or family member of the recipient agrees to donate his or her kidney to another person in need. The chain goes on and on, with people paying the donation forward to others they match up with.
Arlio didn’t even know anyone suffering from kidney failure before she considered starting a chain. She simply donated out of the goodness of her heart, after feeling inspired by an article in Glamour about another altruistic donor.
“I had no idea you could donate to a stranger and it was such an easy recovery,” she said, noting that people typically start feeling better after about two weeks after surgery. “Considering you’re saving someone’s life, it doesn’t seem like a lot to give up two weeks.”
While Arlio’s family members were eventually supportive of her decision, they initially had a hard time understanding why she’d be willing to have unnecessary surgery. But she did her research and came up with an answer for just about everything, like how living with one kidney might affect her health long-term.