“Driving during rush hour is riskier than being a living donor”– written by a living kidney donor on an email list, objecting to a recitation of risks and complications endured by living donors.
I consulted FARS: Fatality Analysis Reporting System in a crude attempt to compile, analyze and compare statistics, but it became impossible.
1. Driving is a repeated behavior, so statistics on driving fatalities are based on the cumulative effect of all drivers and every incident of driving. Think about it, no one ever says “The odds of disease or death related to smoking ONE cigarette ONE time are…”. Also, driving is a behavior, as opposed to an event. A person can choose not to drive, or to stop driving at any time (same with smoking or firefighting). Once the behavior ceases, the risk disappears.
Living donation however, is a singular event and that alters one’s lifetime risk of death.
2. Drivers are trained, both in the classroom and on the road before being given a license. The preparation takes place over the course of weeks and tens of hours.
Living donation amounts to two days of testing and evaluations, approximately 16-20 hours total.
3. Drivers are given both a written and practical test to determine their understanding of traffic laws and practical competence.
Living donors are not.
Let’s put it this way: if drivers were treated like living donors, their vision and reflexes would be tested, then they would be asked a few questions to determine their comprehesion and memory. When they ‘passed’, they would be handed the keys to a racecar and permitted to participate in the Daytona 500.
Not so appealing now, is it?