What Lies Beneath

I had the most interesting patient today. He was intelligent. He was eloquent and well-spoken. Most of all, he was kind.

When he was 20 years old, he donated his kidney to his grandmother. 

What do you think of when you think of 20-year old men? Maybe immaturity. Maybe lacking focus. Maybe silly. Are these judgements? Probably, because there are plenty of 20-year old men who are determined, focused and serious. 

I asked him more about what inspired him to donate his kidney. He said he couldn’t imagine committing someone to dialysis if there was another way. He has two family members who were kidney donors and live normal lives. He has one family member who received a kidney transplant and lives a normal life. His grandmother lives a normal life. To him, it was a normal gesture of kindness. He’s much older now and does not regret his decision.

Why do I bring up this story?

I bring this up because this person’s external appearance fit what media would have you believe is a bad person. He is a male person of color. Had I not sat face-to-face with him and learned more, I never would have known what goodness lies in his heart.

I realize we are all human and that it’s human nature to judge people based on our past experiences, their appearances, our expectations, etc. 

The important thing is how do we process that information and how do we treat the other person?

The beauty of Medicine is there is no “border wall” or physical barricade. We are in the business of taking care of people no matter their gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or political beliefs. 

“A man's conscience and his judgment is the same thing; and as the judgment, so also the conscience, may be erroneous.” -Thomas Hobbes


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