69 good deeds.


Rob Buchanan

It gives one hope to think that there are such extraordinary people out there that would be willing to give up so much of himself for a stranger.  This story was found on CBS Chicago.

He's a hero; a man who put his own life at risk just to give someone else the chance to live. A Chicago man realized someone, somewhere, needed a kidney and so he donated one of his own, and didn't care who got it. CBS 2's Jim Williams reports on this gift of life and Tuesday's remarkable meeting. A few years ago, Tom LeClair said to himself: "Life is great. I'm in good health. I have a great family." Then he asked a question: "Why is it that I wake up every day and have this great life? And others, through no fault of their own, through absolutely no fault of their own, wake up and wonder if they're going to live another day?" Tom had been reading about people who desperately needed organ transplants. He decided right then to donate his kidney; not to a family member or friend, but to a stranger. He didn't care who got it. "When I donate blood," Tom said, "I don't say to the gentleman or the woman at the blood bank, I want this to go to a 54-year-old white guy who drinks beer at O'Brien's restaurant. You leave it in the hands of the experts." Doctors tried to talk him out of it. "From the time we start medical school, we're told first do no harm. And here we're talking about something that could do physical harm to him," said Dr. Susan Huo, Loyola Medical Center. Tom's wife Mimi was worried. "I said, 'I just don't think you should take that risk, Tom. You have a family. You have a long life to live,' " Mimi said. The doctors demanded he have three years of psychological testing. "They sent me to a psychiatrist, to social workers, to see if this guy's crazy, " Tom said. He wasn't crazy; just determined to make someone's life better. Twelve days ago, doctors at Loyola Medical Center removed Tom's kidney. Though he called the process a 'two-week vacation', there has been pain. "People ask him, 'Are you sorry you did this, Tom? Do you have any regrets?' " Mimi said. "And he said, 'Absolutely no regrets.'  "I would do it over again in a heartbeat," Tom said. "I'd do it right now." On Tuesday, for the first time, Tom met the young man who received his kidney: 25-year-old Jose Paramo. "Aw, there's my man," Tom said to Paramo. "Hello, sir. It's nice to finally meet you," Paramo said. Paramo had been on kidney dialysis three times a week for years. Now he plans to go back to school and travel, which he could not do. He also wants to start a family. "I always wanted to have a family and I could actually see it happening now. That's like a big deal for me, too," Paramo said. He can now because of Tom LeClair. "There's people out there like him that are willing to help a perfect stranger," Paramo said as he sobbed in Tom's arms. Dr. John Milner of Loyola Medical Center said 100,000 Americans are waiting for kidney transplants now. Milner said only once or twice a year will someone donate a kidney to a patient the donor does not know.
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