my boss wants to give me his kidney — but I don’t want it

A reader writes:

I have a question that is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the boss who (shudder) tried to force his employees to donate an organ to his brother.

I have a serious chronic kidney disease. I was diagnosed almost a decade ago and have been able to control many of the most serious complications with diet and medication. Recently however, my kidney function has diminished. I am now on regular dialysis and will soon need a transplant.

Because of the sudden change in my health, I had to let my boss, who I have only worked for for six months, know that I would be out several times a week for the treatments. He has been incredibly supportive and I am grateful. However, his support is almost TOO much. He regularly visits me while I’m getting treatments (not to assign work, like another boss someone wrote in about), but just to offer support and “keep me company.” I appreciate that he wants to be there for me, which I think comes from his knowing I don’t have any family locally, but this is unnecessary. My treatments make me very, very tired and I often get sick during and after them. I delicately let him know that I prefer to have my treatments alone, and to his credit, he has cut back on his pop-ins significantly, but now I have another hurdle … he wants to give me his kidney.

Organ donation is very invasive and recovery can take months. There are so many issues with that organ coming from my boss that I don’t even know where to begin, but here’s the main two:

1. Would my boss then feel as if I was obligated to stay in my position? I love my job and have no plans to leave anytime soon, but I don’t want to feel guilty about doing what’s best for me career wise because my supervisor literally saved my life.

2. Things can go wrong with organ donation. There are so many risks that I don’t feel comfortable having my boss undertake on my behalf.

I don’t currently have another donor lined up, but I know I am not comfortable accepting my boss’s offer. How do I tell my incredibly generous boss that I don’t want his kidney, when he knows that if I don’t find an alternative, I could possibly die? He is such a kind man, and I would like a way to firmly, but kindly let him know that isn’t something I can allow him to do, while also expressing my gratitude at the offer.

How about this: “This is an incredibly kind and generous offer and I’m so grateful that you’d consider it. There are enough risks with organ donation and potential complications to our employment relationship that I wouldn’t feel comfortable accepting that from my boss — I hope you understand. Honestly, the best thing you can do for me is what you’ve been doing — giving me the flexibility that I need for medical treatments. You’re the only person in my life who’s in a position to do that, and that on its own has made this time so much easier for me.”

If he continues to push his kidney (a surprising phrase to write), say this: “It actually makes my life easier and less stressful if we keep our relationship to boss/employee rather than donor/organ recipient. I love my job and I don’t want to introduce any potential complications to that. I’m really grateful for the offer, and I hope you understand.”

If he continues to push after that, personally I would yell “I will not take your kidney!” but adapt to whatever you’re comfortable with.

By the way … there is such a thing as too much support, if it ignores the stated wishes of the person being supported. I don’t know how delicate you were when you told him you prefer to have your treatments alone, but “cutting back” on his visits is not the same as respecting your request that he stop. That said, if “delicate” means that you hinted to the point that the message wasn’t quite clear, you may need to be more direct. It’s okay to say, “It’s so kind of you to come check on me, but the treatments take so much out of me, and sometimes make me sick, that I find I prefer to do them alone.” You could also enlist the staff at the clinic and have them tell him you’re resting and not accepting visitors the next time he shows up.

Your boss is clearly trying to help. If he’s as supportive as he seems to be trying to be, you’ll be doing both of you a favor if you let him know (kindly and with enthusiasm) the ways in which you welcome his help — and the ways in which you don’t.

Read the first update here, the second one here, and the latest one here.

{ 372 comments… read them below }

    1. SignalLost*

      I teared up a little at what seems to be an act of amazing generosity, and I would be humbled to have that kind of support, but I also would not want the kidney for the reasons OP lays out.

    2. earl grey aficionado*

      Oof, yes. I am assuming the best of intent on the boss’s part for now, but if he continues to push at this, it will be grossly inappropriate. OP, all of your concerns are 100% valid and I’m glad you’re holding your ground.

      I took a medical ethics class in undergrad that had a heavy organ donation component. We heard from panels of speakers who were recipients, donors, family of donors, and employees at organ donation organizations. I came out of that class a strong supporter of organ donation, but it also permanently removed my rose-colored glasses about the topic. Donating an organ is wholly different from any other way you can support a sick person: it’s emotional, it’s dangerous, and it’s ethically gray in a way few other medical procedures are.

      Not only could this backfire on you–as you said, what if you leave and your boss is so upset that he took this risk for you that it spoils the reference and your own reputation? –but frankly, if I was applying at your boss’s company and I heard that he donated an organ to an employee…well, I might be impressed by his commitment, but more likely, it would seem like a boss overstepping in an employee’s life to me. I have multiple disabilities that I am up front about with employers (I don’t have much choice in the matter) but if, say, an employer visited me in the psych ward while I was having a bipolar episode, it would likely embarrass me and freak me out more than it would feel like real support–and that’s way, way short of an organ donation. IMO, for big gestures (not little things like cards), bosses should stick to providing work-related support like extra time off, flex schedules, etc. There’s just too many ways that big personal gestures like this one can go wrong.

      All this is to say that this letter struck a cord with me and I’m wishing you the best, OP. Hold firm to your own convictions and Alison’s advice, and I hope you find a donor match who isn’t your boss very soon!

      1. Jesca*

        I have an ex that has a genetic disease he was born with. One of the main things is causes is kidney failure. He has had transplants in both kidneys. His brother and mother have as well. But his brother matched with his father’s kidney. The problem was the hospital screwed up the testing, the father had Hepatitis, and then my ex’s brother got that on top of all of his other issues. So ya know, even in close families, it can get messy.

        But my ex did depart to me one main thing: it is awkward as @&*! to accept an organ from someone as it is. He is a huge extrovert, too. It is even more when its someone you have to see every day for many reasons! For instance, his body rejected his first kidney given to him by a family friend. She was devastated. Both of his other donors since live far away and only one was a family member he wasn’t terribly close to.

        1. Victoria*

          Fun fact of the day: When someone receives a new kidney, they rarely take out the old one.

          That means your ex likely has four kidneys.

          1. Sled dog mama*

            Not the one he rejected, that would have come out.
            It’s always strange to see a CT scan of someone’s abdomen after a transplant
            “Left, Right, hmmm third one down by the bladder.”

            1. A*

              I once did a paracentesis on someone who had a kidney transplant and it was sooooo weird to see the kidney floating there while I did it (thank goodness for ultrasound).

          2. Froggy*

            Also, one kidney is transplanted, not two, typically. Someone might have had two (or more) transplants in their lifetime, but one at a time. Depending on the disease, cause of CKD, the original kidneys stay in. They would atrophy to about the size of walnuts over time. If a transplanted kidney fails, it may be removed, if it causing problems.
            Just speaking from personal experience – husband has had two kidney transplants. 1st one from a living donor (a neighbor – and yes, the post-transplant relationship was awkward & troubled), and the 2nd from a deceased donor. In between the 1st transplanted kidney was removed due to inflammation. He still had his original kidneys -and they still functioned a little bit.

      2. Logan*

        Medical ethics probably also covers the benefit of anonymous donation. Many blood donation services refuse to allow donations between people who know each other (family, friends), so it is either anonymous or for one’s self (in preparation for an upcoming risky surgery, for example). This is mostly because – while people often think that ‘family’ will be more known and therefore less at risk for disease than the average population – there are often people who lie to their families about their lifestyle risks, and so it is best to just refuse all of these types of donations.

        And, as Jesca mentions, the risk of rejection is reasonably high. Definitely sufficiently high that I would really not want to accept an organ donation from a living person whom I knew.

        1. KayEss*

          Yeah, I was matched up to donate bone marrow through the national registry, and I don’t think they told me anything about the recipient–like even gender, approximate age, etc.–until after it was done. The preferred type of donation (and the one I did) isn’t even surgical anymore, but they still want to keep donors totally free of emotional influence on decisions made about their own health and willingness to donate. They also don’t give donors post-donation updates on the recipient, and will only put the donor and recipient in contact a full year after the donation and only if both agree–both specifically to prevent emotional entanglements during the period of highest risk.

          I was actually asked to make a second donation to the same recipient a few years later, as her leukemia was starting to come back and they wanted to try a second treatment. I didn’t mind at all doing it, but I can see that it might have been a sticky situation emotionally if my health or personal situation had changed in the intervening time.

        2. DJ Roomba*

          I am usually unafraid of confrontation, but in this case, if the boss wasn’t taking the hint, I’d probably wuss out, tell him to get tested, and tell the doctor to make it clear that he is NOT a match (even if he is).

  1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

    Wishing you the best in your search for a donor, OP.

    It’s amazing that you have a boss who is willing to go through such lengths for you, and I hope Alison’s advice will help you strike the correct balance with him!

    1. OP*

      Thank you! I really do like my boss and although there’s an ick factor in our power dynamic and his offer, I think he’s such a kind, generous person and am so grateful I have another supportive person in my life during this time.

      1. 42*

        I very much like Alison’s wording. It can make him feel as though he’s doing a lot for you (and it’s not fluffery–he really is!) by realizing his unique position as being the only one who can give you the flexibility for your treatments. That’s huge and that’s wonderful, and he should know that that level of support is just as kind and helpful to you.

        Wishing you the best, OP. Please keep us posted.

        1. Bostonian*

          Yes, I think that point is key here. Boss is really just an empathetic person trying to do everything he can to be helpful for someone in a time of need. So instead of letting him decide what the most helpful things to do are, emphasize explicitly what you need most from him- work flexibility and understanding, but nothing more!

      2. Fergus*

        That kind of support only falls from the sky very rarely. Just tell him what you need and don’t need. If he truly wants to support you I bet there won’t be an issue if you tell him your wishes.

      3. Canadian Teapots*

        Also, it may be worth framing your answer in terms of the established medical ethics around donors and explain that this is why it’s a “Thanks very much but no thanks” re: your boss’s suggested donation.

  2. Work Wardrobe*

    If he continues to push after that, personally I would yell “I will not take your kidney!” but adapt to whatever you’re comfortable with.

    Oh Alison. This is why we love you.

        1. oviraptor*

          Maybe instead of yelling “I do not want your kidney!” you could try “No! I do not want your kidney! I want BOTH of your kidneys!”. Followed by evil laughter or psychotic giggling.

          I should think the boss would leave you alone after that.

          (And I am really not suggesting it…unless you think it might work)

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      One of these days when Alison is looking for a super easy post, I would love a Top Ten Sentences I Never Expected to Write.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Oh my god yes. Please.

        (and then I would kinda wanna commission @theshitpostcalligrapher on Tumblr to make fancy illuminated-manuscript-style prints of the best ones to hang around my desk.)

      2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        I think it might not be that easy to stop at 10.
        That’s only around 2 per year since she started!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Is “blog” even the right term anymore? When I tell people I write a blog, I always think they might be picturing something like a LiveJournal that I casually update every few weeks.

            1. serenity*

              It’s more of a “juggernaut” at this point. I agree, the term blog doesn’t seem to do AAM justice anymore.

            2. CM*

              When I tell people about this site, I refer to it as a “workplace advice column.” Blog doesn’t seem to capture it for me.

              1. [insert witty username here]*

                I vote we now refer to Alison as “Empress of All the Offices”

    2. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

      “I don’t want. Your kidney.”

      (channeling James Van der Beek)

        1. TeacherNerd*

          No, no, that’s all wrong! It’s: “I. Don’t. [pause] WANT. [half pause] YourKidney.”

      1. many bells down*

        I do not want it in my torso
        I do not want it more and moreso
        I do not want to take your kidney
        I do not want your organ within me.

        (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

      2. What's with today, today?*

        Hahaha! My husband quotes this movie, and line (the real line) all the time! What can I say? Late 90s teenagers.

    3. The Ginger Ginger*

      I feel like this phrase is the other side of the coin for the “Go get your dog” phrase. Lol

      Employer generosity – is it a “get your dog” situation or an “I don’t want your kidney!” situation?

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        It really is.
        I think those are now the official poles for this type of question.
        “my boss offered to sign the title of a car he isn’t using to me. Should I go get my dog or tell him to keep his kidney?”

  3. Roscoe*

    My guess is this guy has a family member who was saved by an organ donor and he wants to “pay it forward”. Its definitely a tough position, especially if he will, in essence, watch you die. But you also should definitely be very clear about it because of the complications you mention. Good luck

    1. Eplawyer*

      That was somehwhat my read too. He is making this about HIM instead of what the OP wants or needs. HE wants to visit her during treatments because he thinks that what being supportive is. Except she doesn’t want that.

      HE wants to give a kidney because he thinks its what a good boss does (did I just write that?). She doesn’t want the darn kidney. Well his anyway.

      This is like the LW who got all miffed that her employee didn’t take all the cool maternity perks she had set up. It’s not about the person who wants to give, its about what the receiver actually wants or needs.

      OP, I hope you find a kidney that is not your boss’

      1. Pollygrammer*

        This seems like a very uncharitable leap. It’s pretty easy for many people to make the leap from “this thing I could do might save this persons life” to “I should do this thing.”

        1. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

          I mean, I agree that he is trying to do what he thinks is the right thing. I agree that many people upon theoretically understanding some way they can save another’s life, would jump to that opportunity. However, he is still being self-centered. His constant visits and this offer aren’t being made with LW’s actual thoughts and feelings in mind, just what he thinks LW would like. When it comes to medical stuff and you’re not their doctor, and especially as a boss, it’s super inappropriate to butt in so much without taking the actual affected person’s consent, wishes, and boundaries into consideration. Self-centered doesn’t always mean someone is a bad person, it’s a matter of perspective.

          1. Becca*

            I’d say it’s somewhat thoughtless (as in he didn’t give any thought to finding out what she actually wanted or needed) rather than self-centered until he actively ignores her wishes. Which may have already happened, or OP may have been unclear that she really didn’t want ANY visits, as Allison suggested.

      2. Mom MD*

        Exactly. It’s creepy. Showing up to her private personal medical treatment? Boss doesn’t respect boundaries and thinks because he is the boss he is allowed to tread on very personal things.

        1. Princess Cimorene*

          The only way he would know when/where and be allowed in with her is if OP consented and told him, so her giving him the info and allowing him back obviously weren’t very clear signs that she didn’t want him there. She also “hinted” he should cut back, and he did. She wasn’t direct and hasn’t been, and Alison has given her good perspective about that and OP can correct in whichever way she needs to now. I don’t think boss is creepy and OP hasn’t said she feels that way about it.

          She just doesn’t want to feel burdened by his gift, which is a really valid way for OP to feel. Perhaps her feelings will change about it if she still really needs the kidney in 6-9-12 months and she and her boss have established better boundaries. Maybe at that point she will feel better about accepting his gift, but right now she doesn’t and would like to wait for a match from the registry and I hope she gets it to put all of this to bed. But OP didn’t say her boss was creepy, so I don’t think we should call him creepy.

          1. OP*

            Not true. We work at the hospital I receive treatment at. I never invited him to my appointments, but since I receive medical care where we work, he clearly knows where I am at. I leave from work for them so he also knows when.

            I also clearly stated I prefer to be alone during medical appointments. You used the word hint as if I used it, but I did not. What I said was delicate and not as firm as I could have been, but it certainly wasn’t a hint.

  4. The Kidney is Full of Bees*

    There’s absolutely no way that accepting that offer could go well, particularly when he seems to want to be overly involved with your treatment already (to the point of not picking up on boundaries). It’s very kind, but I’d be not cool with it, too. Best wishes for you to find another, less complicated donor!

    1. Yvette*

      He does seem overly involved, showing up at treatments is pretty intrusive and once you have “his” kidney, it may escalate.

      1. Media Monkey*

        exactly. what if he started to try and have a say in your lifestyle choices because you had “his” kidney?

      2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Diet, exercise, sleep schedule.
        You shouldn’t drink that coffee. You should take a break and walk around the office.
        Are you sure you are…
        OMG. This good natured Samaritan will kill you with kindness.

        1. OP*

          When I first told him about my disease he brought me a bunch of low-sodium spices! And then when I mentioned that I eat a high carb diet (protein is hard on the kidneys), his wife baked me loaves of fresh bread!

          A couple people have suggested that he may have developed romantic feelings for me, but I want to be clear that I don’t think that’s the case. I think he’s just used to helping people. He was a very high-ranking officer in the military, so I think this is how he is trained to help people. His wife too. Wives in the military are much more involved in their husband’s careers, and past a certain level, in that of their subordinates too. I served, so I understand the dynamic, even if it is still uncomfortable for me.

            1. OP*

              I definitely get the paternal vibe. I’m in my late 20s and he’s in his 60s. He actually has a daughter my age.

              1. TootsNYC*

                Speaking as a mother whose daughter is in her 20s, it is often much easier to “caretake” for people who aren’t your actual children.

                I bet that’s the urge. Especially since you don’t have family nearby to fill that perceived “vacuum.”

          1. Thursday Next*

            This is interesting, OP, because the above-and-beyondness of the gesture makes more sense in a no-soldier-left-behind context.

            Alison’s scripts for being direct are excellent, and it sounds like your boss might respond well. I suspect he’s not your average boundary-overstepper, but someone conditioned by very specific and immersive circumstances to look out for his direct reports.

            1. Thursday Next*

              Meant to add—he might be able to handle your assertion of boundaries better than other boundary crossers.

              1. OP*

                I agree Thursday! He’s not a vindictive person. I don’t think he will punish me for not accepting his organ. I just don’t want to make light of the fact that he offered to give it to me, and I don’t want there to be room for pushback – no matter how well intentioned.

                1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

                  The military background. This makes sense in terms of, he makes a decision and states his orders. And he doesn’t get swayed. Every action supports his decision, so he has to direnct and control what others do, because ultimately he is in charge. This is necessary in combat and useful in business plan. He’s welcome to run his own life with military precision, but he’s trying to run yours.
                  It’s just how he does things. He doesn’t even realize he’s overstepping because he’s always in charge. You don’t have to tell him, no you’re not in charge of me, just tell him no, thank you.

                2. cchrissyy*

                  that would be nice but honestly I don’t think it’s possible to know somebody well enough in 6 months to say that.

          2. Specialk9*

            Oh, the military puts another spin on it, you’re right. I grew up terrified of f-ing up on base and damaging my dad’s career. People end up waaaay more enmeshed when you live together, and when you need to create community far from family or home communities. It makes boundaries a bit murkier.

          3. e271828*

            Can you tell him (and will he hear) that what you need him to do for you is be an excellent boss, as he has been, so that you can keep up your identity as a working, independent adult? If you want to stay with that job while this happens, then his support for your career is the most important thing he can give you.

        1. Dani_in_the_PM*

          No, it won’t. As always, you’re reading the worst intentions of people. I wonder why you consistently speculate that these strangers have terrible intentions.

    2. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      I just want to say – the imagery invoked by your username is GLORIOUS and my team is probably wondering if I’ve lost my mind.

      But also, is he even a match? He’s getting a little ahead of himself.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Oh gods I hadn’t even looked at the username until you said something but. Yes. I’m very glad my officemate has stepped out for a minute.

      2. OP*

        No idea if he is a match. I don’t want him to start the testing process to find out. That’s already too much.

        1. Raina*

          Actually, this is how to surely shut it down. Allow him to do the initial blood draw and instruct your physician to inform him he is NOT a match, regardless of the outcome.
          This happens in the reverse not infrequently … parents pressure a sibling to be tested. Sibling doesn’t want to donate. Sibling undergoes initial screen and physician tells the rest of the family sibling is NOT a match. It keeps the peace.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            This was going to be my suggestion actually. OP just tell your doctor(s) to tell him that unfortunately he’s not a match. I know it seems a tad underhanded, but really he’s crossing boundaries already and since you want to keep the job I think it’s best to take the path of least resistance. Particularly since you are ill and don’t really need this kind of stress on top of everything else. And who knows? He may not be a match anyway, but seriously have your medical team tell him he isn’t.

          2. anon for this*

            It won’t shut him down. These days many transplants are done by paired exchanges. If he’s not a match to her, he can be a match to someone else and this person’s own donor can donate to OP and so on.

            If someone doesn’t want to donate they should say so. In situations where that is not possible (for instance strong family pressure), just be truthful with the medical staff, they will simply say that you cannot donate for medical reasons. Then you are excluded from any donation program, including paired exchange.

    3. Specialk9*

      “There’s absolutely no way that accepting that offer could go well”

      I mean, I can think of ONE big way it could go well. Just it would come with other ways it wouldn’t.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        And it’s a big one. Saving your life! I understand that this is where you are but I admit that I am bewildered at not wanting someone’s kidney if it saves your life. To me, any negatives pale in comparison to that. If course it should be something you are comfortable with. Different strokes I guess. Regardless I wish you well and that you go on to live a healthy, vibrant life.

  5. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    I have discovered, both personally and with others, that people are well meaning…but they don’t know how to. When I had a coworker in the ICU a former coworker contacted me, frantic, to get the room number so she could send flowers. Or when my other coworker was in the hospital getting her lung drained, I had to fend off a merry group that wanted to pop in and surprise her. I knew her well enough to know that was the LAST thing she wanted. My point, here, tell your boss what you need. My guess is that he’ll be happy to follow what you say. He probably doesn’t know how and is guessing. If you feel rude or overbearing doing so…it’s your health. You *get* to be that way.

    1. WellRed*

      The last thing I would want is a band of coworkers popping in to see me ill and in a hospital gown. Also, flowers aren’t often allowed in ICU. People mean well but, just no.

      1. ElspethGC*

        Not even just ICU – I was double-checking visiting hours etc when I needed to drop some clothes, meds, chargers etc off for a friend who was unexpectedly kept in overnight, and they say “Please don’t: … Bring flowers onto the ward (help our nurses and ward teams focus on caring for patients and keeping wards clean).” And that was just a normal single room in the EENT ward! If I had a friend who was in it for the long haul and wanted a bit of colour, I’d bring a nice bouquet of fake flowers or something, but not real ones.

        1. Specialk9*

          I have spent weeks in the hospital, and was delighted to receive flowers. I’m wondering if different wards have different rules re flowers? Is EENT Emergency Ear Nose & Throat? Cuz I would expect pollen to be dicey for people in an ENT ward.

          1. Lauren*

            Yeah me too. But strongly smelling flowers were turned away. Also, I did not want visitors. Mostly because I wasn’t able to shower much or well and just looked and felt like crap. It was SO tiring to do anything. I couldn’t imagine having to make polite conversation with people I don’t know very well.

          2. ElspethGC*

            Eye Ear Nose and Throat (my friend was in under “eye”), although the rules were listed on the general visiting rules. I think if you were going to be in for weeks you would do best to speak with the nurses on the ward and ask, and they’d probably be okay since you would be occupying the room for a long time. On the other hand, I can 100% see why they tell you not to do it when someone’s just going to be in overnight or over the weekend then discharged, because they need to have a very rapid turnaround on the rooms, especially given the bed shortage that hospitals have been suffering from these last few winters. You don’t know who the next occupant of the room is going to be, so you can’t have any stray pollen or pathogens brought in on the flowers; I’d imagine it takes extra cleaning.

          3. Pathfinder Ryder*

            Different wards can definitely have different flower rules, but sometimes it’s not even about the specialty: My old general medicine ward didn’t encourage flowers (by which I mean had no written rules against it but also didn’t keep vases or anything) because a high proportion of the nurses had hay fever.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      And OP, please talk to your transplant coordinator or the nurse or other person in charge of your care unit, and ask if they’ll tell anyone who comes to visit “We have advised Arya to have complete rest and avoid visitation at this time, and she has agreed”, or something like that. They’re used to playing the gatekeeper and usually won’t mind also being the fall guy for things like this. You’re under their care, and usually they will do what they can (within reason) to make sure you’re comfortable emotionally/mentally as well as physically.

    3. Turquoisecow*

      This reminds me of when my step-sister-in-law was giving birth and her mother and my father-in-law were confused as to why she didn’t want them in the delivery room while she was in labor. Her husband thankfully played the bad guy and refused to let them in. My father-in-law also wanted to come see me in the hospital when I was dealing with a medical issue and while the sentiment was appreciated, he was one of the last people I wanted to see. My boss, nice as he was, was probably on that list also. He thankfully did not show up.

      Sometimes, in the rush to offer comfort, people forget to be concerned with what the patient actually wants. Sometimes this is genuine misunderstanding due to lack of empathetic ability, and sometimes visiting someone in the hospital makes them feel like they’ve done something to “help”, and sometimes it’s some less generous interpretation.

      Don’t feel bad about advocating for yourself, OP, or instructing nurses/other healthcare workers that you don’t want visitors or even a specific visitor. I was extremely grateful to my husband for keeping his dad out of my hospital room, but it’s definitely harder to do on your own. I would have no problem yelling at extended family to get out if I didn’t have husband to do it, but the fact that you need to keep your job makes it more important to be a little tactful.

      1. VerySleepyNewMom*

        Having recently given birth, I wanted NO ONE other than my husband and medical people coming and going. My boobs were out the entire time because my nipples hurt too much to wear a shirt.

        I think visiting someone in the hospital is often welcome if they’re there for a while and could use help staying occupied. But I’d never visit someone for a 2-5 day hospital stay–I’d offer to drop of meals afterwards instead. It’s far more helpful.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          Yeah, I haven’t had kids (yet), but I told Husbad right then and there that I didn’t want anyone other than him in the delivery room.

          1. VerySleepyNewMom*

            It wasn’t just the delivery room for me! It was the entire hospital stay. Granted, a half hour visit there would have been easier than at home. But all I wanted to do in the hospital was feed/cuddle the baby, eat, and sleep (oh dear lord am I grateful the hospital had a nursery. They’d only take the baby for 2.5 hour chunks but those chunks were glorious, glorious sleep).

            As it turned out, I didn’t care who was in the delivery room, but my labor was super fast. I was in the delivery room for <20 minutes before my son was born, so I didn't even note who was there, really. My husband said there were like 7 people at one point, but I only remember one nurse for me, the midwife, and the nurse for the baby. If I had been aware of who was there, I'm sure I would have cared!

            I am always baffled by people who think medical procedures are anything but private.

        2. Hills to Die on*

          I didn’t even want anyone else at the hospital. My in laws were hellbent in being in the waiting room until I made my husband tell them no, that they would wait for an invite after my mom came to help me, which was also After I was out of the hospital.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I confess that I secretly judge people who all want to wait around at the waiting room for the birth. They’re not actually doing anything to help. And their presence there is another “gravitational force” tugging on the attention of the parents. And it always makes me wonder whether there are healthy boundaries in the extended family.

            And then I remind myself that not everyone is like me.

            But yeah, nobody was going to be waiting at the hospital for me to give birth, let alone in the room!

            1. Optimistic Prime*

              Also, why would you want to wait around in the waiting room anyway? Go home where you have creature comforts and just wait for the phone call! It’s not like you should run upstairs the minute the baby’s popped out anyway; give her some space and recovery time!

              1. Connie-Lynne*

                My dad hung out in the waiting room while I was in labor. He provided physical (food, etc) and emotional support to my mom and daughter’s father, who were helping me.

                There are some reasons to hang out in the waiting room.

            2. Princess Cimorene*

              I don’t really understand why people are confused by people being excited about a brand new life entering the world. It’s normal to want to be there, to support and or see the baby right away rather than waiting days. Culturally it’s even expected in many places to have people excitedly waiting in or out of the room. So if this isn’t wanted by the expecting parents, they should be explicit about that, long before the due date arrives.

              Personally I think I’d want all my visits at the hospital (although ideally I want to give birth at a birthing center and go home a few hours later, or at home) and then be left alone for a week or two at home before welcoming visits. The hospital feels easier because I’ll have help and rules which can limit the number of visitors or times or whatever. At home people might easily overstay their welcome lol. I guess we’re all different, but I don’t understand being annoyed by normal anticipation and excitement surrounding new life.

      2. Media Monkey*

        a good friend of mine’s parents in law sat in the hospital car park with sandwiches while she gave birth so they could get in to see the baby before her parents and she refused to have them in the delivery room. SMH.

        1. ElspethGC*

          It’s baffling how many people don’t understand that “I don’t want my in-laws to see my vulva, especially not under these circumstances” is really quite a reasonable hill to die on. I saw one man asking how he could convince his wife to let his parents be there for her labour because she wanted her own mother to be present so why not her mother-in-law, it wasn’t fair to him and his parents. No acknowledgement of the fact that his wife didn’t want her mother-in-law to see her under very painful, exposed and bodily-fluid-filled circumstances. No, that didn’t matter, because it wasn’t fair that his mother couldn’t be there!

          1. Live and Learn*

            Oh man, this! My mother-in-law was super disappointed and confused that my husband wouldn’t let her in the delivery room when I gave birth (at my request). She arrived 15 minutes after he was born and there was no keeping her out at that point. When the nurse came in shortly after to help me get cleaned up she couldn’t understand why she was asked to leave the room! All I could think was “why do you WANT to see that? If I didn’t have to be here I would step out of the room!”

            1. Eye of the Hedgehog*

              “If I didn’t have to be here I would step out of the room!”

              Amen to that.

          2. Media Monkey*

            i have no idea why so much “but that’s not fair to meeeeeeee” seems to come into things when babies are involved. you can’t exclusively breastfeed because it’s not fair that no one else can feed the baby (i had that one). you can’t put the exhausted. overtired and screaming baby to bed because we have just arrived 4 hours later than agreed (also me with my sister in law and family). you have to pierce the newborn baby’s ears or you are disregarding my culture (one of my friends). you have to drive 5 hours to see us with a week old baby despite the fact your stitches mean you can’t sit comfortably (same friend and same parents in law as above)

            1. Penny Lane*

              “you have to pierce the newborn baby’s ears or you are disregarding my culture (one of my friends).”

              Why do you need to pierce your baby’s ears because of your friend’s culture? She can pierce her own baby’s ears if she likes.

              1. Thursday Next*

                I took it to mean that the friend’s parents-in-law said this to the friend…but I could be wrong?

                1. Media Monkey*

                  yes! her maternal family are from Trinidad where it is apparently the done thing to pierce baby girl’s ears as soon as they are born so that people know they are girls. they were angry when she refused to do it (even after she pointed out that it’s not legal to pierce babies’ ears prior to 6 months in the UK, and even then she didn’t intend to have it done).

              1. Media Monkey*

                that obviously wasn’t clear – i need new in-laws. the other examples were things my friends have heard from their family!

          3. Turquoisecow*

            There was an advice column letter about this recently – I forget which one – from the MIL’s perspective. She was very insulted that the other grandmother (the mother’s mother) was able to be in the delivery room and she was told to wait.

            1. anon24*

              I remember there was a dear Abby quite awhile back but it was from the husband’s perspective – he just couldn’t understand why his wife didn’t want his mom in the room while she gave birth if her mom could be there. I don’t remember Abby’s answer, but she later published a reader comment asking if the husband would change a tire in front of his FIL in the nude. One of my favorite responses!

              1. Turquoisecow*

                Yes, that was the one! I could see both my MIL and step-MIL possibly writing that letter (although my MIL is a little saber).

            2. nnn*

              What’s mind-blowing about that to me is that it’s quite likely the MIL gave birth herself at some point. Can’t she remember what it’s like??

              1. Plague of frogs*

                Yeah, it was “all about her” and this is “all about her” too. It’s probably completely consistent in her mind.

          4. Cucumberzucchini*

            I do not understand 1) Why you want to watch someone else give birth 2) Or feel like you are entitled to be there

            I’ve told my husband if we have children nobody will be told I’m in labor. They can find out when *I* call them. Frankly I don’t think I’d want my husband there either. I’m looking for the dads smoking cigars in the waiting room setup.

            1. Celeste*

              People who want to be there are more about seeing a brand new baby than they are about seeing a woman give birth. Too bad you can’t have one without the other, right?! I didn’t want anyone there. Even the required people were enough to make me feel like a penguin at the zoo. I get why cats go off in a spot away from everyone to give birth, I really do.

              1. Hills to Die on*

                Same. I have friends who are labor and delivery nurses and they frequently find a need to stock supplies or find a reason to be in the room when there’s a new baby just born or active labor. Someone did that with me while I was holding my daughter and getting stitched up. Kept giving me congratulatory smiles until I stared her down and she left. Grr…

                1. VerySleepyNewMom*

                  That would make me so mad! My hospital had a rule that once mom & baby are stable (and stitched), no one comes in the room for 2 hours. Though I also was unaware of anyone coming and going while I was getting stitched up, because the numbing drugs didn’t work. I was screaming like a banshee. It was worse than the baby coming out.

            2. VerySleepyNewMom*

              This is what I did. My rule for my family was that I would call them when I felt up to it. As it was, I felt fine physically (no drugs will help with that), but a very fast labor meant I spent like 6 hours in shock that suddenly I had a baby. So it took me a while to call!

            3. RUKiddingMe*

              The good thing is that the woman in labor is the patient and so has the right (still anyway) to call alllllll of the shots, including keeping the father out while she, again the patient, has her medical procedure happen.

          5. TootsNYC*

            and because, the mother wasn’t there for HER benefit; she was there for the patient’s benefit. So it’s not about fair.

      3. Aleta*

        This reminds me of when I was having medium surgery (a lap to remove an ovarian cyst, which is normally minor-ish but it was pretty large), and my mom asked me if I wanted her to come stay with me during recovery. I told her no, I’d be fine and would rather be by myself while recovering. She said “oh, I knew you’d be fine, I was asking more for my benefit.” Had a biiiiiig fight with my dad about it because apparently she was super hurt I was being so selfish. About how I wanted to manage my own surgery recovery. Yeah.

        1. Demon Llama*

          a) I hope you’re all recovered now – I’ve had a laparoscopy and it’s not fun no matter what it’s for, and
          b) my mother appears to be related to yours – it is amazing how she manages to reframe caring for her kids into getting her kids to do emotional lifting for her. Top of my list: calling my sister repeatedly in floods of tears when my sister had late-stage miscarried. Why she didn’t call me, the less-emotionally-wrecked sibling, I have no idea.

          1. Aleta*

            I’m fine (at least from that specific thing) now, but it was a long recovery due to complications and having my mom there would have SUCKED. I was a bike courier at the time and they found endometriosis so my recovery was estimated at 4 weeks, got back to work after 5, but it took a good 6 months before I was back to normal-ish energy levels, and I never got back enough to work riding shift doubles.

            And yup, reframing caring for kids into getting kids to do all emotional lifting is exactly my mom!

            1. Demon Llama*

              double oof! my own lap was to rule out endo and I got super lucky there. I can only imagine the horror of recovery + running around after someone like my mother… Glad you’ve recovered from that specific issue and all good vibes to you for any other stuff you’re dealing with now. (And that you’re living a suitably healthy distance from your mom!)

          2. RUKiddingMe*

            When my son died, the actual day he died not six hours later my sister made a point of telling me that all of the people who were in my house weren’t thinking abut how difficult it all was for her and how horrible it would be for “Mom if she was still alive.” She was a carbon copy of our mother so I don’t know why I was shocked that she would complain to the mother of someone who had just been taken off of life support a few hours earlier about how bad it was for her, but I was…

        2. Thursday Next*

          My mother must be a lost sibling of yours and Demon Llama’s. When I was recovering from surgery years ago, she came over to help with my toddler. Right after I threw up from the pain meds, she remarked on how thin my hair had gotten. (I have lupus. She makes this remark about my hair every few years. It does not go well.)

          I told her to get out and when my dad called to tell me how unkind it was of me to say that, I hung up on him.

          I hire people when I need help now. Sometimes the cheapest way to pay for things is with money.

          1. BadWolf*

            You can borrow my mom next time. She came to help with a minor-ish surgery and after a day was like, “You seem pretty good, I go home?” Me, “Yes, good, thanks for driving.”

            1. Totally Minnie*

              My mom’s like yours. At my last surgery her reaction was “I don’t think you should be alone in the house in case something happens, but I know you’re not in the mood for company so I’m going to read a book in the other room. Shout if you need me.”

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Same when I had my gallbladder out. It was outpatient surgery, and I needed someone to drive me there and back and stay overnight with me, so Mum came over. The next morning, I woke up to the sound of a dog loudly barking outside, got up off the sofa, and went out to yell “Shaddup!” at it. My mum was like, “Well, clearly you’re fine; I’m going home now!”

          2. Autumnheart*

            Along with child molesters and people who talk at the theater, I would say that the special hell will also include people who expect you to make your personal crisis all about them.

        3. Turquoisecow*

          I’m glad you’re able to set boundaries and hang up on them. My husband struggles a bit with this sometimes for fear of being rude. I have to be the bad guy sometimes, and stick up for him.

      4. Environmental Compliance*

        I’m (more than) a little concerned that my MIL will be that crazy person that storms in while I am hypothetically in labor because she “needs to help”. She’s made comments about her ‘needing’ to be there during and after and we have absolutely no plans of children. She’s also made comments that she’ll just come down (it’s a 4+ hour drive) and stay with us a month “or more!!” because ‘we’ll need help’. The thought is sweet, kinda, but not when the help isn’t asked for and isn’t wanted. MIL has a history of having absolutely no boundaries and she would drive me up the damn wall. For her it’s a combination of not fully understanding what empathy is, not really understanding normal boundaries, and feeling the need to ‘help’ but not really thinking out fully what ‘help’ really means in each situation.

        I’ve already told Hubs that if we have children, MIL is not invited to appointments. No one but Hubs and medical staff are to be in labor room. And if someone tries, heaven help them, because I do not have the patience for people who insist on shoving their need to pretend-help down other’s throats.

        (Somewhat related note – Hubs had appendicitis and needed an emergency appendectomy a few months ago. Got him to the ER about 3AM, scheduled for surgery that morning. MIL was of course notified, but the first thing out of her mouth was that obviously Hubs went to the wrong doctor, they can’t possibly be right, and she’ll be there to take him to get a second opinion in a few hours. Uh, no. Just……no. Surprise, his appendix really had decided to become a gymnast and twirl around itself, and needed to be removed! She also decided she needed to stay for another 2. friggin. weeks. because Hubs will need a nurse and EC just can’t do it. No, Hubs is fine, he’s just not allowed to be that active or eating what MIL keeps trying to feed him, and EC works 5 minutes away…..go home, you crazy woman! Thankfully FIL dragged her back home the same day of the surgery.)

        1. Specialk9*

          Hypothetically, you should tell your MIL that your hypothetical baby will be born at a different hospital than reality, bc yeah from that description, she’ll definitely try to barge in.

          Though fortunately labor/delivery wards are locked down TIGHT — mine you had to talk into the video intercom to even get into the locked ward (IF you got in), and then when the babies were born they were tagged and if they went over the boundary a shriek-alarm went off. They’re not messing around!

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            My proposed plan right now is to let the in-laws know when the baby is already out and born and we’re ready for visitors, and not a minute before. And for a variety of other reasons that involve bigger bags of crazy, I’m not entirely sure that a whole lot of people are going to get to know which hospital.

            (Hubs and I have been talking kids a lot more recently, and now all these probably-not-problems are sitting festering in my brain. Oi.)

            1. Demon Llama*

              This is also exactly my plan for anyone related to me. They don’t know we’re trying, they won’t know we’re trying, and preferably they won’t know if we’ve succeeded until at least 12 weeks.

              And equally, they won’t know that the little sleep-thief is on its way until it’s here and I’ve had some rest. Partner and I have already discussed the, “oops, it was such a blur that we forgot to message” message…

              So… not sure if it’s depressing or reassuring but you’re not the only one with these issues on the brain.

              1. Environmental Compliance*

                I really enjoy that you have called your future tiny human a little sleep thief.

            2. Sled dog mama*

              This is exactly what we did with the first one, no one knew i was in labor until about 6 hours after she arrived when we started making calls.

              We also stopped answering our phones when family called at about 37 weeks (they leave a message we call back) the entire first week every message “oh you’re not answering, must be in labor. I’ll get ready to come.”
              Mind you we didn’t actually invite anyone. By the time I actually went into labor no family member was phased by us not answering the phone and no one actually suspected I was in labor.

              1. Thursday Next*

                Yep, we didn’t tell our parents until our kids were born. My MIL had been making noises about wanting a phone call when I went into labor. Nope!

                We called my brother when I was in labor with baby #2, so he could meet us at the hospital and take kid #1 home with him.

                Nobody can show up if they don’t know where you are!

          2. Hills to Die on*

            Yeah, the nurses will kick them out in a hot second. People don’t get to just show up and stare at your exposed vagina.

            1. Serendipity*

              My MIL was kicked out of the labour room by my midwives.

              I was a bit preoccupied at the time and didn’t notice, but she was talking verrry loudly on the phone to my hard-of-hearing FIL over the top of my moans and screams, and they asked her to take it out to the visitor’s room.

              Her important conversation?

              Instructing him on how to record her favourite TV program so she wouldn’t miss out while in the ward with me.

        2. VerySleepyNewMom*

          “MIL is not invited to appointments.”

          And back on subject, I am baffled as to why anyone wants to go to anyone else’s medical appointments. I’ll happily go with my grandmother to an appointment to make sure the right questions are asked and notes are taken, but that’s because it’s necessary.

          I get that some people think it’s different when there’s a baby on the way, but the woman is still the patient. Plus 90% of appointments are super boring.

          1. Not a Mere Device*

            Sometimes it comes from “I want to take care of you, and this seems like what would be helpful right now.” Once in a while it is–the last time my mother went to the doctor with me, for example, when I went home with a diagnosis of pneumonia. But she didn’t say “I’m coming with you,” she asked whether I would like her to come along. I can’t imagine having wanted my mother-in-law there: I liked her, but she isn’t my mom.

            I don’t think that’s what’s going on with most of the people who try to intrude on prenatal visits or delivery rooms, especially the ones who are all about my grandchild or “but your mother gets to be there.”

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              ^ MIL is all about “her grandbaby!!!” so I think she forgets that there’s lines that people just don’t cross. She’s already got two grandkids from her daughter, so not sure what the focus is on me & Hubs exactly.

        3. Media Monkey*

          is it normal in the US that anyone can turn up at the hospital any time? in the UK, hospitals have visiting hours of a few hours in the afternoon and a couple in the evening and a limit of 2 visitors per bed mostly. for maternity, normally the father gets longer visiting hours so you can get family time without other visitors. but this and other posts seem to suggest that people can turn up when they like?

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            I was under the impression that you can’t just meander on in normally, but when my grandpa was in the hospital off and on for a few years visiting hours were pretty much all day. You had to check in, and if you weren’t on the list of family, they would ask the family/him if he wanted to see them. The nurses kept pretty good tabs on who was supposed to be seeing whom and how long they’d been there. They didn’t disallow all of us being in the room, but admittedly, he was also dying and in a private room, so there may have been difference allowances there. This was at a VA hospital, which also may have some policy differences.

            In my MIL’s case, she seems to have a case of I Do What I Want Because I’m [MIL]. She’s like that in most areas of her life, tbh. She’s also always very confused when she is curtly reminded that the rules actually do apply to her.

  6. Specialk9*

    Aw, that’s nice of him! But also, you’re TOTALLY reasonable to feel uncomfortable about him doing kind (very kind!) things that *you don’t actually want*. His heart is in the right place, but that doesn’t mean you are required to accept, when you don’t want to. The point of help is to HELP, and the current options aren’t all right for you. And that’s ok!

    One thing that might help is to channel that desire to help into a route you would actually appreciate. So if you find it exhausting to cook and expensive to eat out all the time, ask him to coordinate a meal delivery (and ask that he do the hard work of making sure it’s food you can eat if you have a special diet), and then arrange a drop-off that you don’t have to be present for (e.g. cooler on the porch).

    Something like that. Otherwise he’s going to do more and more in an attempt to help. Organize a fun run 5k! Print out t-shirts! Start a national giving campaign!

    1. Naptime Enthusiast*

      I’m wondering if something like that is actually a good idea. Organizing a (voluntary!) donor drive might be a good way for him to feel like he’s helping without infringing on OP’s privacy. Similar to a blood drive or LLS’s cheek swabs to find marrow donors.

      Of course, boss may take it way too far and force everyone to sign up and turn into donor boss on behalf of OP :(

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        I’d be wary because he might call on coworkers to pitch in. LW has been there six months and if Boss makes this his pet project, how are people supposed to opt out?

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        Agreed. I was going to suggest an addition to Alison’s script along the lines of ‘However, it’s great that you want to be a donor and they’re always looking for people to sign up to the register – maybe you could do that?’, but there is a risk he could take it too far. (Or alternatively he could decide not to do it, because he only wants his kidney to go to OP, but at least he’s being made aware that there’s something else he can do which might help others in a similar situation.)

    2. WellRed*

      I see what you are thinking with this, but he’s already shown he oversteps. I’d hesitate to ask him for anything beyond job flexibility.

  7. I'm A Little TeaPot*

    um, aren’t there tests you’d have to pass to be a donor? how would he know he’d be a good match anyway?

    1. EvanMax*

      The problem with playing it passive, and just hoping the tests will come back and rule him out, is that if the tests say that they are a match it is even harder/more awkward to decline at that point. Cleaner to just do it up front.

      1. Doe-Eyed*

        FWIW, this situation comes up a LOT in organ transplant. If she passes onto the doctors she is not comfortable with this, then they will ‘break’ the news that the other person is not compatible.

        1. sam*

          Yeah – from what I understand from friends who have had to go through this, there is also some serious psychological counseling that goes along with this, and they will absolutely consider someone “not compatible” if they suspect that there are problems that have nothing to do with biological compatibility (on either end of the donation).

          There are a certain subset of people (a very small number) who become compulsive about charitable giving – whether it’s money or, well organ donation. There was a philanthropist a few years ago who pledged millions to charity – millions that he did not actually have, and it caused multiple charities to end up really struggling when he was exposed, because their budgets were completely blown. With organ donation, the screeners are trained to look for (and weed out) folks who tip over into this type of behavior.

        2. MicroManagered*

          And that’s not untrue… In OP’s case, they would not be compatible because OP doesn’t want the kidney from this recipient.

    2. Evan Þ*

      There absolutely are. I was reading through this letter for any mention of how the boss would even know he’s compatible with the OP. (Compatible as a donor, I mean – they’re definitely compatible at work!)

      Perhaps that’d give OP an out? I know that the people doing the testing will privately ask prospective donors if they really want to donate, and if not, report them as not being a match; could OP ask them if they’d tell him he’s not a match since she doesn’t want him to donate to her?

    3. OP*

      There’s no guarantee he would be a match, but I am AB+ so I can receive blood and tissue donations from anyone (in a very broad sense). He knows this due to being at many(!) of my dialysis appointments. It’s true he’d have to go through other tests to ensure he’s a candidate for donation, but it’s not unreasonable for him to think he could be.

      1. Snark*

        Oh nooo. OP, you can absolutely request that he not come to any more of your appointments. That’s just….not appropriate.

        1. Jesca*

          I know!
          “He knows this due to being at many(!) of my dialysis appointments”

          So much in one sentence. He is, sadly, the kind boundary crosser. The only other advice I would suggest is to remove him as much as possible from all of this. Like, don’t give in. He is what I call “give a mouse a cookie” type (yeah, I have kids LOL). You give an inch, and they take a mile. Only he this way with kindness. You can’t really give them any leeway in boundaries, because they never learned that keeping those boundaries are a kindness as well. I would just shut it down while being polite and appreciative and then tell him what you need (your boundaries). You could even go as a far as to say that work is a great distraction, and you would prefer to not discuss it with him, but honestly you are likely going to have to get firm cuz he is making it so awkward!

        2. Totally Minnie*

          I agree with Snark. I have an employee with a serious health issue and I’m doing everything I can to be supportive of her as her boss, but I would never dream of going to her medical appointments with her. Her private medical information is hers to own or share as she feels comfortable, and that’s just not a place where a boss belongs.

          I get that it can feel weird putting up that boundary now when he’s already been at so many of your appointments, but you can soften the blow by telling him it’s a kind instinct, but that you would like to have more privacy from here on out.

      2. Wanda*

        Matching for donating an organ is *much* more stringent than matching on blood type. Sometimes even close relatives don’t match.

        Also, the doctors will not give you an organ from someone you don’t want. If necessary, if you ask, they will lie to a pushy donor to tell them they’re not a match. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that though!

      3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        He knows way to much.
        It’s clearly your kidneys and your gut that is failing. Your gut is working and it is right. He’s overstepping and he will continue to do so.
        Call on the hospital staff to run interference. Allow yourself NOT to answer every question he asks.
        Work your way up to saying no to his offer, because you have to.

      4. cchrissyy*

        I’ve been to a kidney transplant hospital in the role of potential donor. Matching is MUCH more complicated than blood type. Also, at age 60 he is too old. It wouldn’t matter if he was your own parent and in perfect health and desperate to give it to you and a match and you wanted it. The age alone rules him out.

        1. OP*

          Exactly what Kidney Doc said. He isn’t excluded due to his age. People over 70 can safely donate a kidney.

      5. CarrieKidney*

        Hi OP
        My mom was tested to be a donor for me. As far as I know, she’s a suitable AB+ donor but they haven’t come up with a chained donation scenario for me (I’m O+ and can only accept O+). Know any O+ donors?

        1. OP*

          Maybe my boss could donate to you! Think your boss would give one to me? Kidding! I hope you find a match soon, CarrieKidney. This process is so stressful.

      6. anon for this*

        Are the staff allowing visits? I used to be on dialysis and visits were strongly discouraged because of privacy issues for the other patients, due to dialysis taking place in a large communal room. The only patients who had regular visitors were elderly and confused and they really needed someone there to reassure them.

        1. OP*

          The military hospital I am at doesn’t do a lot of dialysis. In fact, I had to get special permission to receive mine there. The rooms are communal, but my boss is staff at the hospital (as am I) so he’s allowed more access than a normal visitor, and there is very, very rarely another patient in the room with me.

    4. Doodle*

      This ended up in the wrong place the first time, sorry.

      There’s also something called a “kidney transfer chain” (I’d include a link, but I wanted to skip moderation — that’s the phrase to google) where person A’s friend/family member donates to person B, and person B’s friend/family donates to person A, thus avoiding the match issues. Chains of more than 30 people have been successfully completed. So, even if the OP’s boss is not a good match for the OP, he could still donate “for” her, just more tangentially, with all of the same issues the OP raised.

      1. socrescentfresh*

        Who knows, maybe OP’s boss will be inspired to become a non-directed kidney donor instead, so he can give this gift to someone who’s not, you know, a direct report. I was evaluated to be a living kidney donor earlier this year and even though I got rejected (which indeed is fairly common), the medical center I went to has a specific program for people who want to donate a kidney to anyone in need for whom they’re a good match.

        1. Safetykats*

          A lot of commenters – and actually the OP as well – are acting as if someone can just “give” you an organ. As a small number of comments have pointed out, it’s so much more complicated than that. Odds are very good that OP’s boss won’t be a good match, or will be disqualified for some other reason. My neighbor is finally scheduled for her kidney transplant next month, but is on her 7th prospective donor (that we know of – but we do know of 6 that were not matches, or were disqualified for other reasons).

          I would strongly consider that whether or not you’re comfortable accepting a kidney from your boss – which is a position that might change as your health changes and if no other organ becomes available, if your boss really wants to donate you can just refer him to the donor coordinator at your transplant center. They will take care of figuring out whether he’s physically, mentally, and ethically suited to donate at all, and whether it’s possible for him to donate to you. They will take care of asking whether he’s interested in non-directed donation, if you are not a match.

          In other words, I understand how you would feel like having your boss be your donor would be messy and fraught. However, if your boss really wants to donate, I can assure you there are a lot of other people waiting for a donor who would be happy to have someone like him step forward. Unless you’re simply against living donation under any circumstances, you might at least consider referring him and letting the transplant center work it out. You can certainly tell him that you’re not comfortable with him going into the process as a directed donor, but if he wants to pursue non-directed donation that’s a very generous act. (And, as I’m sure you know, if as a non-directed donor he turns out to be your best match, you can simply ask the center to keep your information confidential. Of course, if you’re in for surgery the same day, that’s a little obvious. But at a big center there can be multiple transplants going on at any time, and you can always deal with that down the road.)

          1. OP*

            I’m fully aware of how difficult finding a match can be, thanks.

            But I’m not willing to let my boss go through the extensive testing and interviews that go into this process. I do not want my kidney to come from my boss.

    5. KarenK*

      Yes, but there are other reasons why a donor would not be acceptable besides medical ones. As I wrote below, at my former program, the power differential alone would be enough to disqualify the boss.

    6. C*

      You can also do chain donations so he would not necessarily need to match her to donate for her.

    7. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Yes, but even allowing it to get to that point where he can be rejected is several boundaries too far.

      1. OP*

        I agree, Yetanotherjennifer. I’m not going to pass this off to my medical team or pray he doesn’t match.

        1. nonymous*

          I just wanted to point out that asking someone on your medical team to speak to your boss (asking him to leave during dialysis, redirecting his organ donation to anonymous channels not including you) is a completely legitimate option to balance asserting your position with the power dynamics involved. It would not be “passing it off” because you are the one deciding that he is not an appropriate donor.

          It might feel that in order to own this decision you have to be the one that tells him “no”, but honestly you have already made that decision. Anything you do from now on – even designating the messenger – will be action you are taking to execute your preferences. Additionally, taking an indirect approach may be a savvy approach which allows preservation of a working relationship.

          1. TootsNYC*

            And I would think that “I don’t want” would be absolutely disqualifying, in the eyes of the transplant team, in their own judgment.

            They may also have a recommendation that you not get a transplant from your current employer, so all the obvious reasons. Or if they don’t, you could ask them to adopt that point of view for now.

            So I like the idea of passing this off to someone on that team. Discuss it with them, and maybe have them reach out to your boss to give him the no. Sooner rather than later, so this can be put to rest between you.

        2. Raina*

          Your medical team can tell him he is NOT a match, regardless. They will operate per your direction.

  8. not so sweet*

    I bet the transplant co-ordinator people at the hospital could provide some boilerplate thanks-but-no-thanks response suitable for a power-imbalanced situation like this.

    1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

      Yes- I’m not familiar with this, but I could swear in the opposite letter one of the comments brought up how stringently hospitals treated even the appearance of a conflict of interest. If I’m remembering the story correctly, there was a case where the woman who was to receive a kidney offered to help take care of her kidney donor’s children while she recovered- this was ruled an impermissible quid pro quo, and the donation was not allowed to go forward. I bet the hospital wouldn’t let this go forward even if the OP wanted it to.

    2. Canarian*

      I was going to suggest this, too. I’m sure not all transplant departments are created equal, but the social support staff when my uncle was listed (and waited 4 years!) for his new liver and kidney were incredible with providing help for all the unexpected and unique stuff that comes with organ transplants. OP, your hospital should be able to help counsel you and give you support with how to go about turning down this offer.

    3. chomps84*

      I wonder if they could give the OP language SHE could use with him, since she doesn’t want to refer him to the donation team. Although Allison’s language seems good.

  9. BadWolf*

    I assume your boss isn’t an actual match (maybe he is!!) which might result in a many chain person line up of kidneys — which would even add another wrinkle (what if someone backs out, what if donating to you indirectly sours him on the idea) on this plan. Just pointing this out as additional reasons for “not a good idea.”

    I think kidney donation has been presented as an “easy”-ish thing to do — stories about people from India selling kidneys (fraught with peril topic), the feel good stories about 5 people donating kidneys so everyone gets a match. Boss might not realize the impact or brushed it aside too quickly.

    1. BadWolf*

      ETA–If you need another reason to keep him out of treatment time, remind him that it’s basically “Being sick” time and some people want people around when they’re sick (and being alone makes them feel worse) and some people want to be alone (and having people around causes stress). You’re one of the alone people (whether you are generally or not). Probably Boss is one of the “wants company” people.

  10. Raina*

    This is sort of easy and not unusual … if he keeps pushing after Alison’s suggested scripts have him go in for an initial bloodscreening (blood draw), then tell your physician regardless of how it comes back to inform him he is NOT a potential donor.

    This approach is used when family pushes a family member to donate that does not want donate.

    1. Irene Adler*

      Next time boss brings up the kidney donation topic, might just ask boss what his blood type is.
      No matter what he answers, say that its not a match for you.
      Just don’t tell him what your blood type is- so he doesn’t get the notion to go out and find someone who matches.

      1. Snark*

        I feel like this substitutes biological boundaries for social ones. What’s wrong with clearly expressing one’s social boundaries?

        1. Penny Lane*

          Nothing’s wrong with clearly expressing one’s social boundaries, but here, the biological boundaries could provide an unequivocal end to the whole matter. You’re not qualified, thanks anyway, end of subject.

        2. Goya de la Mancha*

          Nothing wrong with expressing social boundaries! Just that some people wouldn’t even get the hint after being yelled “keep your f’ing kidney!” at. So Bio-boundaries to the rescue – can’t argue with science (though there are those that try…)

        3. Plague of frogs*

          Yes, agreed. You don’t want him to go around saying, “I was totally going to donate a kidney to OP!” for the rest of your career. I mean, that’s probably not his motivation; he’s probably just a nice guy. But the suggestion of the donation has already crossed a boundary. Hold that boundary firm so that others don’t get crossed.

      2. ElspethGC*

        OP mentioned elsewhere that boss knows their blood type from turning up at dialysis appointments, which is a whole ‘nother type of boundary-breaking. AB+, universal recipient.

        1. Raina*

          It is not just blood type the determines eligibility; blood type is simply the first step.

          1. Plague of frogs*

            But any further testing would be obnoxious to OP, so best to shut this whole thing down immediately and non-medically.

  11. Clorinda*

    Kidneys aren’t Lego blocks. He might well not be an actual match, so it seems like he’s tremendously ahead of himself here. Also, he’s living in a sentimental story with himself as the hero, and I’m sure he’s a lovely person–he’s made an incredibly generous offer–but it’s easy to see why OP is a bit skeeved out. OP, it’s probably time to cut way back on the amount and detail of medical information you share with him.

    1. Aurion*

      “Sentimental story with himself as the hero” is exactly where my mind went to.

      It’s incredibly kind of him to make this offer, but if he’s thinking that far ahead on the fantasy without even knowing if he’s a viable tissue donor, the power dynamics, and all the complications in this situation…well, he probably doesn’t even know very much about the donation process. I could easily see him as the kind of person who could potential blanch and back out of the whole thing once he realizes what kidney donation even entails.

    2. Emmie*

      I don’t know enough about the boss to determine whether he idolizes being a hero. It is quite a leap for me to assume such negative motivations. He could also be one of those people that feel other’s pain very deeply, and genuinely want to help. I recommend that OP assume her boss has positive intent with a big lack of social awareness. He is pushing it to a place where OP is uncomfortable, and Alison’s advice is very helpful.

      1. Clorinda*

        I didn’t mean to be negative about him. We all tell stories about ourselves. If he tells stories where he is benevolent and generous, good for him! After all, how many of us would make a sincere offer of a kidney to someone who wasn’t a family member? Not many! But that’s HIS story; it’s not OP’s story. She sees all the downsides he’s glossing over, and it’s her choice.

  12. Justme, The OG*

    I do love that your boss is trying to help you. But what he is doing (the frequent visits and the offer of donation) isn’t the help that you need from him right now. Or ever.

  13. Snark*

    There are so many ways this could go wrong, scattered evenly across a gradient of wrongness that goes from “slightly awkward and icky” to “demands for indentured kidney-servitude.”

  14. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

    Boy, just when I start to think I’ve heard it all! OP, my thoughts are with you and I hope you find a non-boss kidney soon.

    1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      Also I have decided that BOSS KIDNEY would be an awesome band name.

      1. Snark*

        Fergus and the Boss Kidneys, live with their new single “I Don’t Want Your Organs, I Just Want PTO”

          1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

            from their debut album, Voluntold featuring the dance remix What the:
            What the actual eff?
            What fresh
            Hell is this?
            So my
            Food is too spicy
            Now my career is dicy
            What the actual eff
            What the
            Fresh hell is this?

          2. Tardigrade*

            I wasn’t as fond of “Printer in a Coma” but “Burning Down the Break Room” was awesome.

          1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

            I saw the video. Bill Nighy remade the Christmas video from Love Actually.

  15. Doodle*

    There’s also something called a “kidney transfer chain” (I’d include a link, but I wanted to skip moderation — that’s the phrase to google) where person A’s friend/family member donates to person B, and person B’s friend/family donates to person A, thus avoiding the match issues. Chains of more than 30 people have been successfully completed. So, even if the OP’s boss is not a good match for the OP, he could still donate “for” her, just more tangentially, with all of the same issues the OP raised.

    1. Doodle*

      Sorry, this ended up in the wrong place — re-posted above, but basically, the fact that he might not be a match for the OP wouldn’t necessarily rule him out.

  16. nuqotw*

    Even if it biologically checked out, it’s unlikely that the transplant team (doctor, social worker, someone) would allow the transplant if you were uncomfortable with it. Tell you doctor, and they will simply say that the match is not compatible.

    There is some chance that your boss really wants to donate a kidney to someone, period. If so, whoever communicates that you and he are not a match will presumably be able to follow up with him on that and you won’t have to be involved in any way.

    1. Magee*

      While that story does have a positive outcome, I don’t think that really applies to this situation.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      Hey! That’s my alma mater! One of the rare occasions one of our sports teams could make us proud.

  17. Lynca*

    “Things can go wrong with organ donation. There are so many risks that I don’t feel comfortable having my boss undertake on my behalf.”

    And I wouldn’t be afraid to bring this up with your boss. The fact they jumped straight to “I will donate to you” makes me think they like the idea of doing something big to help but maybe they don’t understand what it actually means for them or you. It’s nice to see someone care but I get how it’s not really helping. It may help to outline what help you could accept from work to help establish the boundaries back. I have made meals for people with health issues, drove them to appointments, etc. but I was not their supervisor. Those are things more suited for intimate relationships like friends or family.

    Good luck getting your donor, however. I know it can sometimes be a difficult wait.

    1. DCGirl*

      I have a dear friend who received a kidney from her daughter, who was a match. Her daughter, unfortunately, had every complication in the book after the surgery had had to have two subsequent surgeries because her incision wasn’t healing properly at all. I know she doesn’t regret what she did, but she had a year of challenges afterward. Things can definitely go wrong, and it’s perfectly acceptable for the OP to bring this up.

    2. Genny*

      From some of OP’s other comments, it really does sound like boss’ heart is in the right place, so I think this would be the track I’d take too. Use Allison’s scripts, but also flesh out some of the specifics that make you uncomfortable (framed as “I would be uncomfortable because of x,y, and z, so I wouldn’t in good conscience be able to take your kidney”). I think for people who are wrapped up in the desire to help, a gentle balloon pop of their white knight fantasy helps. Also redirect his focus to areas where you do need help.

  18. Detective Amy Santiago*

    OP – I wish you all the best with your health issues.

    Please tell me I’m not the only one with the “Kidney Now” song from 30 Rock stuck in my head now though.

  19. Very anon for this*

    Yeah set some clear boundaries. He clearly wants to help and if you make clear what is helpful, he should be receptive.

    Also sending you healing thoughts as well, OP. I’m dealing with lupus nephritis right now and will likely need dialysis and/or a transplant soon so I’m about to go down a similar path. My only living immediate family member (bed chance for a match) has an illness the would preclude her from donating, so we shall see. Maybe your boss can give me an kidney and I’ll see if my boss could spare one for you!

  20. NicoleK*

    You don’t want him attending your dialysis sessions so talk to the FA, RN, or social worker. They can ask him to leave.

  21. Let's Talk About Splett*

    I actually donated a kidney to a friend a year ago. Both I and the recipient had to meet with a social worker separately to hash just these kind of issues out well beforehand. You should be able to tell your social worker that you aren’t comfortable accepting a kidney from this recipient, and they will tell him just that you aren’t a good candidate for the donation without getting into reasons.

  22. KarenK*

    I can tell you in the program I used to work in, it would not fly. We have turned down bosses who wanted to give kidneys to employees as we were absolutely not comfortable with the power dynamics involved.

    Transplant programs often tell recipients and potential living donors the same thing – Let us be the bad guy. Let the program tell the boss that this would not be acceptable. Usually this comes into play when someone is being pressured to be a donor. The program will simply say that the pressured donor is not acceptable, with no reason given. Frankly, there are so many reasons why one would not be a suitable living donor. It could be anything.

    So, if telling the boss directly that you will not accept a kidney does not work, put her in touch with the living donor coordinator at your transplant program and let them tell her no.

    1. lisa*

      This is great advice. I recently donated a kidney, and I can tell you the interview process was exhaustive–they still asked me all of the questions to make sure I wasn’t feeling pressured, even though I was a nondirected donor (I didn’t know the person getting my kidney).

      If your boss is strongly interested in giving a kidney, and you or your transplant coordinator tell him that you can’t receive his, you could suggest the nondirected route–as folks have mentioned above, nondirected donors can kick of chains of donations that benefit multiple people, and it avoids creating any undue burden on you as a recipient of your boss’s kidney. Honestly, having the opportunity to donate was (for me) a wonderful experience. There’s an organization called Waitlist Zero that has a ton of helpful information about donation on their website that you could direct him to.

    2. NW Mossy*

      I like this approach, and it makes for an easy way for the OP to get into the conversation with her boss. “Hey, I learned recently that transplant programs won’t coordinate a boss-to-employee donation because the power dynamics aren’t good for anyone involved. I so appreciate your generosity, but this one’s a no-go due to their rules.” You could then pick up Alison’s script to make it clear that other steps (like supporting your time away, remaining at arm’s length) are more helpful and appropriate.

  23. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

    As a potential kidney donor and the relative (by marriage) to a two-time transplant patient, I say nip this in the bud. Alison’s scripts are excellent, and do a good job of striking a balance of gratitude for the kindness and firm boundaries. I am a huuuge advocate for organ donation, but live donation takes on an additional emotional/psychological layer even when there is not a power imbalance.

  24. Jim*

    “I’ve run this idea past the Subcommittee on Kidney Donation Subcommittee, and they sadly must decline the generous offer. I tried to follow up as to the reasoning of their decision, but they declined to comment.”

  25. Queen Anne*

    I half expected Allison to say; “now go get your kidney”.
    In all seriousness; I have no other advice as everyone has brought up some very good points. I wish you the best of luck!

  26. Inkwell Wishes*

    OP, there are so many uncomfortable power dynamics that could come into play here. It potentially really puts you in a vulnerable position, considering this is also the person who controls your livelihood.

    It’s nice he’s supportive, but he does seem overly invested in your well-being, which is very risky. It’s not just about you wanting to change jobs one day in the future. How much ownership might he feel if he sees you having a sip of wine? Or eating food he doesn’t agree with? Etc., etc. He may feel like you should be taking better care of his “gift” and that will sour very quickly. If he were a friend or relative, you could put up more boundaries about that, but – per point above about your livelihood – that’s much harder with a boss.

    BUT, all that said, I’m going to be a slightly dissenting voice and say that ultimately, it’s your life, and you have to decide what the trade-offs are when you consider how ill you are and what you’re willing to do to stay alive. Taking this kidney is very problematic, but if you get to a point where it’s your only option, do what you feel is right for you.

    I wish you well!

  27. AKchic*

    I can 100% understand why LW doesn’t want her boss to be her donor. From this letter, it sounds like she has only worked for the boss for what, 6 months? and he’s already offering his kidney? Come on, that is so White Knight here that he’s setting off beacons calling for Gondor’s aid just from the glare of his armor.
    The offer really has nothing to do with LW. It has everything to do with the boss trying to be a Nice Guy (TM). I am sure that he would brag to everyone about how selfless and generous he is about the whole thing too.

    Am I being jaded and pessimistic? Possibly. Probably. But I don’t see any reason why someone who has known someone in a working capacity for 6 months would insert themselves into serious medical issues and then offer a body part like this if it wasn’t ultimately about *them* and not 100% the employee.

    It is time to reset the employee/boss relationship to just that and reign in the medical visits to zero. No, you don’t want his kidney. You are his employee and you are keeping the relationship a working one. Period.

    I am so sorry you are going through all of this. You didn’t deserve any of this, and you certainly didn’t deserve this boss to add to your stress.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      But really, even if the boss is just great, saying no clearly and kindly is the right thing to do. In my first job out of college, I was getting my wisdom teeth out, and my boss offered to drive me home after, because she knew I was new in town, didn’t have family around, etc. I even said no to that!

    2. smoke tree*

      I do wonder if the boss realizes what a big deal organ donation is. It seems like a really big sacrifice to make on behalf of anyone you’ve known for less than a year.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        A lot of people have never had major surgery or a major illness, nor helped someone else heal from one. (I have, fwiw.) They really don’t understand that it’s WAY outside “getting your wisdom teeth out” territory.

  28. essEss*

    I could just see the boss monitoring everything she does that might affect ‘his’ kidney post-donation. “You need to drink more cranberry juice.” or monitoring her social media – “How dare you go have a glass of wine with your friend last night, it’s bad for the kidneys”….

  29. Applesauced*

    In telling him no, could you suggest he sign up for the national donor registry?
    If he’s really willing to make such a big donation hopefully it can help someone without any strings attached.

    1. Morning Glory*

      I would not recommend this. The boss has known his entire life he could donate a kidney to someone who needs it and, since he still has one to spare, has chosen not to do so.

      There are plenty of kind gestures/sacrifices people are willing to do for people they care about, but that does not mean they would be willing to do it for a total stranger – and that is okay. Asking him to do this may hurt or insult him in a way that a gentle refusal would not.

  30. Celeste*

    I don’t see how it could possibly be healthy emotionally for you to take a kidney from someone who already doesn’t get the concept of boundaries. OP, you have quite enough on your plate without taking that on. I could see things getting even worse after a donation. He already wants to be too close; you don’t want any of him literally in you. The transplant staff have many ways of seeing this doesn’t go forward. Their job is to help get you well, not to help create new problems in your life.

    He is quite free to offer his kidney up to anyone else, or to get tested for the Be The Match program if he just really wants to be a donor. Maybe he could work to set up one of those drives in the community if he wants to feel useful. Or he could donate money in your name to a charitable organization that’s associated, like the Red Cross.

    I’m very hopeful that you will soon have the perfect kidney so you can get your life back to normal!!!!! We would love to hear your update.

  31. dr_silverware*

    In the best case, your boss has developed a romance with helping you through your illness and doesn’t understand the implications. In the worst case, your boss has a different understanding of your relationship than you do–not necessarily romantic, but certainly jarring if and when their understanding of your relationship conflicts with your understanding.

    I suspect it’s somewhere in the middle, where the romance of helping you with your illness has morphed your relationship. From a working relationship in the real world to a sitcommy quasi-family working relationship. (“This week on Seinfeld, Jerry tries to let a woman down easy and George’s boss tries to give him his kidney!”)

    Basically it’s great to give your boss the benefit of the doubt, but what they’re doing is also not actually cool at all. Your medical treatments are your medical treatments, and your boss doesn’t have a place in them. If you have any inkling that your boss might be disappointed, or that your refusal might change your working relationship, I’d say immediately do what some of the other commenters have suggested and see if your care team is willing to be the bad guy–“Oh, they said I shouldn’t take visitors, they said they won’t accept a donation from an employer,” etc.

    1. OP*

      My boss was a high-ranking officer in the military. I don’t think he’s developed romantic feelings for me (we are both married to other people), but I do think he views his subordinates as people he needs to “take care of,” moreso than a civilian boss would.

      I served too, so I get the dynamic, and the military definitely has less boundaries than civilian workplaces, in general. But even in the military, getting a kidney from your boss would be… weird.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        > your boss has developed a romance with helping you through your illness

        This isn’t the same as them having romantic feelings for you (although you both being married doesn’t actually affect that). This is about your boss seeing himself as a Hero in a Movie. Think of a big lush late-1950’s movie in Technicolor and with orchestral music swelling up while The Hero strikes a Heroic pose. That’s “romantic” without any actual falling-in-love going on.

        1. OP*

          You don’t actually know that, Jennifer.

          I don’t think he has a hero complex. I don’t think his motivations are self-serving in any way. I just think his idea what’s helpful to me and the help I am willing to accept are vastly different.

  32. OP*

    OP here,

    I actually said (almost verbatim) what you suggested when I asked him to not come to my appointments, Alison. I guess screaming that his kidney is no good here is the next logical step. Kidding… I think.

    I really appreciate the advice so far. I don’t want to ask him to coordinate meal delivery or anything of those type of things that have been suggested because I think that further crosses the boundaries from boss to friend. Just continuing to let me telework when I feel crappy, and giving me lots of flexibility for my treatments is plenty. I love the verbiage Alison suggested and will definitely be using it.

    Background that may help answer some questions:

    – My boss and I are both work at the hospital where I get my treatments, although we’re both administrative staff and not medical professionals. This means I can’t change my appointments without causing myself difficulty, but also means it’s a little less weird than if he was driving across town to sit with me during the work day while I am receiving treatment. He just brings his laptop down and sits with me so I’m not alone. I think he would really appreciate this if the situation were reversed. I’m just not like that, and prefer solitude when I’m ill.

    It also means my boss and I are both friendly with the nephrology staff on a professional level, so having them run interference is a little more uncomfortable. Not that they would violate HIPAA or my wishes and tell him, it’s just a little less “listen to me, I’m the nurse,” and more, “ah, come on Helen. You don’t want my sick employee to be alone, right?”

    – I have AB+ blood and from sitting at my appointments, my boss knows this. This means I am a universal receiver for tissue, blood donations. This does NOT mean anyone is automatically a match. The testing process is very, very extensive and my health can change quickly, meaning I could myself become ineligible for transplant from anyone – not just my boss. But I don’t want to a) ask my doctor to lie to my boss or b) allow my boss to go through the testing in hopes he isn’t cleared to give me his organ. As mentioned above, there is the chance that he would be asked at that point to consider donating his kidney to someone other than me, and then I’d get a kidney from their loved one. I don’t want any of that.

    1. dr_silverware*

      Your workplace context does change things! I think it also kinda means that the ethical obligations are higher, though I know it often really doesn’t work that way… :/

      If Alison’s scripts don’t work, I think your care team is still going to be really important, even though you all know them professionally. As would an ombudsman, and even HR, or some of the ethics folks you probably (hopefully) have around the hospital. I think it’s worth escalating.

      1. dr_silverware*

        Also despite my username I am super not an MD ;) I always feel a little weird commenting on the medical-related posts here so wanted to clarify…

      2. OP*

        We have HR, definitely. We’re a large military hospital. Which brings me to something I shared above that adds a little more context: My boss was a high-ranking officer in the military, and I do think he views his subordinates as people he needs to “take care of,” moreso than a civilian boss would.

        I served too, so I get the dynamic, and the military definitely has less boundaries than civilian workplaces, in general. But even in the military, getting a kidney from your boss would be… weird.

        Luckily, my actual transplant team is outside of the military so I won’t have to deal with colleagues performing the surgery or having to run interference with their buddy when that time comes.

        1. Vin Packer*

          My reading of your boss was initially less charitable than everyone else’s, but I agree that all of this context changes things!

          In addition to everything else, I have found that people in health care are less squicky about body stuff in general—“we do not discuss intestines at dinner” is a rule I have had to establish with one person I know!—and the idea that one would want to vomit privately isn’t unheard of but it’s not an automatic given, either.

          I’m so glad to hear that your boss is just overeager but sincere (and not a weirdo creep) sounds like Alison’s language will do the trick here.

          Also, props to you for being so gracious while dealing with something that must be painful and traumatic. I wish you every good thing.

          1. Specialk9*

            Ha, yeah, I had to institute a ‘no talking about dissecting corpses at the table’ rule with my family when I was 6.

          2. OP*

            It’s very odd how open all the people I work with are about their medical conditions! I’m an open person by nature, but I don’t have a medical degree, so the ease that some of my colleagues discuss bodily fluids with is interesting.

            I think my boss is a nice man. Really. I’ve been around creepy people with not great intentions before, but this vibe is very different than that.

            I appreciate the nice wishes from everyone. I’m hopeful that I find a match soon. I have two little girls to chase after! :)

        2. Totally Minnie*

          I think your boss sounds like a really good guy, and that if you were to have a calm and quiet conversation with him, he’ll probably be okay with it. It sounds like he just really wants to make this okay for you, so let him know what that looks like for you. It might not be comfortable in the moment, but if he’s as kind as you make him seem, he’ll want to help in the ways you want him to and not in the ways that make you uncomfortable.

    2. Let's Talk About Splett*

      It would not be lying for the transplant program to tell your boss he’s not a suitable candidate to be your donor. You will both have to go through many interviews about your feelings around this with mental health pros, because this is a BFD. I can’t see how a professional can ethically recommend your boss continue with the process to be tested knowing you have (completely understandable) reservations.

      1. KimberlyR*

        I agree with this, although I do understand why you would feel weird if your care team had the conversation with your boss instead of you. But if you choose to go this route, the care team can absolutely tell your boss that he is not a suitable candidate-with the context being he isn’t because you don’t want him to be.

    3. Ennigaldi*

      My boss at Lastjob had PCKD and needed a transplant from a non-family-member because of it. He put out the call for potential donors to his personal contacts, since he didn’t qualify for the transplant list, and luckily one of his old friends stepped up (they both had to get in shape for the operation so they made a pact, got it done, and both recovered fine). The key there was personal contacts, not work contacts. With a boss this empathetic, maybe you can get him on board with helping you find a match who isn’t him? He clearly wants to help, but it’s more important that you’re comfortable with that help. See if he would draft emails for you, something to make him feel useful that would ACTUALLY be useful for you, too.

      1. OP*

        I have PKD. It’s genetic, so it can be a little more difficult for people to find acceptable familial matches. I’m glad your last boss is okay.

    4. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

      This makes me downgrade him from total creep status to just creepy. It’s some Nicholas Sparks nonsense to have such a devoted boss and it squicks me out. At least he’s not driving to stalk you to the hospital but still, he’s part of the hospital and should know that many people value privacy when ill.

    5. smoke tree*

      I wonder if this would be a situation where Alison’s patented “I have this quirk” approach would be useful. Something like “Boss, I just wanted to let you know that I have a really strong preference for medical privacy. Obviously working in a hospital environment makes this a lot harder, so it would make things a lot easier if you can help me maintain medical boundaries at work.” This sounds like someone who is having a hard time making a jump from the Golden Rule (treat others as you would want to be treated) to the Platinum Rule (treat others as they want to be treated) so this kind of framing might help him continue to feel like he’s being helpful.

    6. Jeanne*

      You need to talk to your coordinator. This is her job! He can get the blood test but she must tell him that he is not a match. She must find a way to keep the results private. Coordinators do this all the time where they turn people down because the recipient does not want them. Talk to her ASAP. (I have a transplant, I know the rules.) Then next you must have a blunt conversation with your boss about dialysis. “I knowyou mean well but I feel worse when I have visitors. I want to sleep or I often feel terribly physically ill. It is very hard to deal with a visitor. You are kind but please stop visiting. I will ask if I need company.” Dialysis sucks and I know how you feel and visitors would be awful.

    7. KimberlyR*

      I have worked in hospitals/healthcare for last 10+ years as support stuff (not clinical) so I totally understand that environment. When I had a baby at the hospital where I worked, coworkers did not come to visit, which I appreciated! I didn’t want them to see me like that, even though they are healthcare professionals. That would’ve crossed a boundary for me.

      I do think you need to sit him down and explain that, although you really appreciate his support, you recover best if you have solitude. He sounds like a nice guy who doesn’t clearly understand some boundaries so you’ll have to erect those boundaries and stick with them. Unless he seems emotionally manipulative, I’m sure he will be fine with complying with your needs once he understands them. Good luck!

    8. BadWolf*

      Do you think he’d be receptive to pointing out that some people like company when they’re sick and feel comforted and feel entertained, but some people like to be alone and when people are visiting, they feel like they have to be “on” and be entertaining. He might say, “Oh no, I don’t need to be entertained, I’m just hanging out.” Counter “It doesn’t matter, your presence just makes me feel that way. I would much rather greet you when I’m back at work and feeling improved.”

      It’s like the opposite of someone saying, “I need you to be at my bedside.” and you say, “Oh I’m thinking positive thoughts for you.” No, not the same. Present or not present.

    9. AKchic*

      Actually, I’m even more squicked out by the idea that your boss, who works in a hospital setting, doesn’t see the boundary issues he’s causing. Military or not, he is causing problems.

      Talk to your doctors and care team. He needs to be barred from “visiting”. They need to be firm. He gets no access whatsoever. It doesn’t matter what your boss would like done for him if he were in your position because he’s *not* in your position. He is not asking what you’d like done in your position, he is assuming what you’d like based on his preferences and applying them without asking you, and using his position of authority to run roughshod over your preferences, wishes, boundaries, and privacy. That is not a good boss, and that is bad for the medical field.
      Your care team can go ahead and run interference for you. Your job is to get treatment and do your job.

      I wish you the best.

    10. Specialk9*

      This is helpful context, thanks!

      Above all, we all want you to have an easier illness, have a perfect kidney show up and you able to accept it, and the best recovery. I’m putting that intention out there, for what that’s worth!

      Sorry things are so hard now.

    11. cchrissyy*

      your context does help it make more sense.
      still, he is far into your personal space by coming to your dialysis.
      how about directly saying “I prefer to be alone” when he comes to sit with you. maybe scripts like “I just want to be alone today”, “I need some space to think”, “it’s nice you want to sit with me but actually, lately I prefer to be alone.” Is he trying to chat with you and make this social time? then you could tell him thanks but actually you don’t want dialysis to be social time, actually you like it quiet, or you plan to read a book, or take a nap, or call a family member.

    12. Genny*

      Some people feel like their help isn’t real unless it’s something tangible (a meal, a ride, company, etc.), so he might be feeling like the flexibility isn’t enough. YMMV, but I’d have a nice “come to Jesus” talk with him. Schedule a coffee to discuss what you do and don’t want from him.

      Personally, in those types of situations, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, so I’d go into all the detail you went into here (boss/employee relationship, medical complications, too enmeshed, etc.). I’d be really specific about stuff I want him to change and why, while liberally acknowledging the things I want him to keep doing. If there are any things you can redirect him to, do that. If there aren’t, tell him that. Sometimes people who want to help just don’t know how and need you to tell them what you want. He sounds like the type who would listen.

    13. Raina*

      A medical team will tell him he is not a match, if that is your wish. It isn’t a big deal and in fact, it happens not infrequently when a family member is pressured to be tested to see if he/she is a match and does not want to donate. Get your boss off your back. Your physician is focused on your well being and will not have qualms about saying whatever needs to be said to help you.
      Good luck to you – I hope you find wellness.

    14. Student*

      I realize this may not be viable for a lot of reasons, but perhaps you could see about getting treated at a different hospital?

      1. OP*

        My transplant will be at a hospital in a nearby city, but for dialysis it would cause me extra hardship to seek care elsewhere.

    15. anon for this*

      I received my transplant from a deceased donor and it was a relief because I didn’t want any family or friends taking a big risk for an outcome that was not guaranteed. I might have felt differently if transplants had a 100% success rate but we’re still a long way from that. In the end it was a moot point because I have a rare blood type and none of them would have been a suitable donor.
      I certainly would have been extremely uncomfortable if someone I’d know for only 6 months offered to be a donor. It’s hard to explain, the generosity is very much appreciated but it doesn’t feel right.

      Wishing you good luck OP.

  33. Teapot librarian*

    I’m not sure of the best way for you to word this, OP, but I would have you suggest to your boss that after you get your transplant (may it be soon and successful), he can look into donating to someone he doesn’t know.
    Also, while I’m 100% on board with you not wanting your boss to be your donor, I do want to make sure that you don’t try too hard to discourage other possible living donors. I know that my recipient tried very hard to make sure that I went into the process with wide open eyes, which I appreciated, but I would leave the “it’s major surgery and things could go wrong” to the transplant team to communicate. (For the record, I would have gone back to work after one week had I not had an out of town relative staying with me to “take care of me” and she would have been bored if I’d left her alone!)

  34. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

    My beloved bosses have been pretty bad at boundaries except when it’s medical, holy crap! I hope that all goes well and Nice Guy steps way back. I understand offering but you don’t strongarm someone into a kidney.

  35. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    So, as terrible as this might sound, I’m hoping your boss isn’t a good match. That would probably be the easiest way to get out of it – if his kidney isn’t that compatible with your body, then it does neither of you any good for him to donate it. (He sounds like he’s well meaning, but VERY obtuse. “YOUR KIDNEY IS LITERALLY POISON TO ME” might get through in a way that, “Hey, having a piece of my boss INSIDE OF ME would make my job SUPER awkward” isn’t.)

    Other than that…man, LW, I hope you find a kidney very soon! I was going to suggest that maybe you suggest ways he could help with kidney disease in general – not because you’re obligated to, but to redirect his efforts in a more helpful direction. Does your disease have a good foundation? Maybe you could suggest he do some work for that or donate funds there.

    1. AMT*

      “That would probably be the easiest way to get out of it” — but does OP really want to take the route of least confrontation? What if the kidney is a match? Why make everyone go through the trouble when OP knows it’s 100% not happening? Sure, it’s sometimes awkward to give a hard no, but in this case, it’s necessary. Assuming he’s not a complete nutjob, this guy won’t hold it against OP for refusing his kidney.

    2. KimberlyR*

      There are a lot of extensive tests involved sometimes. My husband had the correct blood type (and willingness) to donate to a family member so they put him through an entire day of testing-bloodwork, multiple kinds of scans of his body, etc. There would’ve been a 2nd day of testing but he showed up as pre-diabetic, which ended his donation chances. But the time, effort, and cost is well beyond what OP wants from his boss, just to find out he’s not compatible. It isn’t one simple little thing.

      1. OP*

        You hit the nail on the head Kimberly. I’m fully aware my boss is not entirely likely to be a match. But I don’t want to have him go through the process to find out.

        1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

          Well, I was kind of thinking…maybe it’d be more obvious that you probably don’t match. (Like, he’s of Chinese descent and you’re African American. I’m not a doctor, and I’m certainly not a transplant surgeon – so I’m not sure exactly how things would work.)

          You might have found your out, OP. MIGHT – it sounds like there’s a good chance he’ll say that the expense of getting tested is okay. But the cost of even checking, and the relatively low chance of getting a “positive” result is a good enough reason to give pause.

          1. OP*

            We’re both Caucasian. I don’t know that cost would be an issue for him, and my dialysis team is different from my transplant team, who he doesn’t interact with. But I’m definitely going to take some of the suggestions here and let them know he has said he wants to donate to me and that I’m uncomfortable with it. Maybe they’ll hear my description of him and have an easy way to let him down like you mentioned!

            1. FaintlyMacabre*

              If you were both our for surgery at the same time, wouldn’t that affect your workplace? Can you frame it as being a bad idea for him to be out when you’ll need him to approve your sick time? Just to really make it clear that he can help you best from the sidelines.

              1. OP*

                We have a pretty great team who can fill in, so while dual absences would need managing, it’s not exclusionary.

  36. Kali*

    Wasn’t there an episode of Drop Dead Diva in which a man sued his ex-wife for the kidney he’d donated to her?

    1. OP*

      That happened in real life! Luckily (or not?) my husband isn’t a match, so I’ll never have to go to court over an organ.

    2. DArcy*

      Yeah, but that was in the context of a very nasty divorce (he accused her of cheating on him and went big on media, she nuked back with evidence that he was actually cheating on her, etc).

  37. AMT*

    I wish I could find this blog post because I’d really like to give credit, but I remember reading a post about help help vs. “help” — in other words, real help vs. help that people give you to serve their own needs. The author used an anecdote from her own life: she broke down on the side of the road and wanted help pushing her car into a nearby parking lot, but a guy insisted on calling her a tow truck that she knew she couldn’t afford and yelled at her when she refused to accept his “help.” Coincidentally, her friend drove by a little while later and ended up helping her push the car.

    Both of these people had good intentions, but only one listened to her and offered her the kind of help she actually asked for. In a situation like OP’s where you’re feeling guilty about refusing “help,” it’s helpful to remember that they’re *not actually helping you* when they ignore your stated needs. In other words, reframing it as “so-and-so is actively ignoring what I explicitly asked them to do” vs. “so-and-so is helping” might make you feel better about speaking up.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Yes, this was me twenty years ago. I genuinely wanted to help people, but sometimes took it too far and did too much. I got burned out, made some people angry and even creeped others out (and yes, I cringe very much at how I used to be). I realised that part of my desire to help came from wanting to fulfil something within myself. I was doing it for me, not the other person.

      What I do these days is:

      1) Believe what the person says. To use your example, I would believe the woman saying she only needed help pushing the car;

      2) Tell them ONCE that they can ask for more help if they want it, and then let it go. So for the woman and her car, I might say, “Sure, happy to help. If you want me to do more, like call a tow truck, just let me know.” And then I would drop it. Some people can have trouble asking for help, so I let them know I’m there, and do not at all push it.

      Anyway! Enough about me. OP, if this is the case for your boss (his offers of help are to fulfil something within him), Alison’s script is great. You could add something like, “You offered to help and this is how you can best help me. I need you to believe me. And I promise you’ll be the first I’ll call if I need anything else.” Maybe that’s too direct, since he’s your boss. The person who got through to me was much more direct than that, but that’s essentially what they said.

      And I could totally be projecting my experience on to him, and therefore be completely wrong! Either way, I wish you the best of luck with your health and hope it all works out soon with the minimum of fuss.

  38. A suggestion*

    If he’s really intent on it, perhaps suggest that he register as a organ donor or give blood/plasma at the local Red Cross or blood bank. He can still make a difference in someone else’s life without giving you his organ.

  39. Samiratou*

    Wow. I have a coworker who donated a kidney to another coworker (which was awesome! And amazing!) but those were peers, on different teams, which took all the power dynamics out of it. I think they were friends, too, outside of work.

    As a boss, though, there’s just too much there for it to be a good idea. It’s an amazing offer, and I’m glad you have a supportive boss, and I hope he continues to be supportive by respecting your requests for boundaries.

  40. Interviewer*

    As the boss, hopefully he’ll recognize that appropriate behavior in the workplace starts with him. Maybe you can use some of these talking points –

    Doesn’t he have work to do? Meetings to attend, calls to take, paperwork to shuffle?
    Does he ask coworkers to attend his medical appointments? Does he go to appointments for other coworkers?
    You really like to be by yourself – it’s a chance to nap, listen to music, etc.
    While he may already know that you don’t have close family in town, you do have a great support network and a wonderful medical team, and you’ll call on him if you ever need his help.
    As your boss, he’s already learning a lot of HIPAA-related information that he shouldn’t have on these appointments, and HR would/should have a field day with this situation.
    No one on staff feels comfortable telling him to leave due to rank, but you’re asking him nicely not to show up at your appointments any more.

    Maybe one of these will resonate with him, and highlight the issues he should have seen long ago.

    We’d love an update.

  41. Queenie*

    This just reminds me how passionately I want a follow-up to the “boss is making us all test to see if we’re compatible liver donors for his brother” story.

  42. KimberlyR*

    I have a family member who needs a kidney and there are SO MANY EMOTIONS when there is an organ involved. I agree with others that you tell him what would actually help you-flexibility with work, the ability to work from home or work odd hours if that makes sense for your company and role, the ability to take off of work for a few hours/entire day when you’re not at your best, etc. If you don’t give him concrete ways to help, I’m afraid he’ll jump to fundraising, Go Fund Mes, etc and you may or may not want all of that.

  43. J*

    My dad went through kidney failure. He was on the list for 7 years and never got a call. There is a real possibility the Lw might die from this.

    1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      OP alludes to this possibility in her letter, so I think she’s considered that risk in making her decision.

      I’m sorry about your father.

    2. OP*

      Not the most sensitive thing to say, but yes, I know it’s a possibility that I could die from this.

  44. Lunchy*

    I just want to send some love over to you OP. My younger brother has had chronic kidney problems since he was a baby, and it was heart wrenching watching all the things he had to go through, but he’s been so strong over the years. Keep rocking it, OP! All the good vibes to you!

  45. Swimming?*

    Speaking as someone who had an overly kind and attentive boss turn out to be a total creep, is it possible there’s more motivating this guy?

    1. OP*

      I really don’t think so.

      I understand why someone would consider that his motivations are not simply philanthropic, given that I’m a female in her late 20s and he’s a male in his 60s, but I get much more a of a paternal vibe than anything else from him.

      1. Swimming?*

        I had the same original paternal feel from this guy, a former marine in his 50s. I was in my mid 20s at the time and things got real screwy and stalkerish once both of us moved on to other jobs.
        You have much more experience with you’re boss though, so it’s very likely he just cares about his people quite a bit. Best of luck to you!

      2. Student*

        If you genuinely believe that there is nothing in his heart other than a desire to help you, then you would be doing him a kindness by spelling out that his particular form of comfort is not helpful to you right now.

        Different people process medical problems differently; you need space, whereas it’s obvious your boss would want to be surrounded by friendly faces. Maybe frame that as an introvert/extrovert thing for the boss.

        For the kidney, you need to spell out something more direct than AAM’s script. “I know you want to help me. I appreciate that greatly, and you have helped me a lot. More than anything else, though, I need you to believe me and trust me when I tell you what is and isn’t helpful for me right now. The kidney offer is kindhearted, but it is not helpful to me. I need you to stop suggesting it. You are my boss, and I would be more distressed about you donating a kidney to me than happy about getting a kidney. I know you obviously don’t see it the same way, but I need you to believe me when I tell you that’s how I feel about it, and accept my judgement.”

  46. Non-profiteer*

    Why in the heck is it a societal norm that everyone who is in the hospital wants to be visited in the hospital?! I suppose if I had an extended, continuous stay in the hospital and was incredibly bored, I might enjoy visitors who are not very close family. But in general, I don’t want anyone except my immediate family seeing me in a hospital gown. Especially not coworkers!

    At the very least, people, ASK if the person wants visitors before showing up!

  47. Sedna*

    Whoeee OP, that is a lot! Good on you for working to set clear boundaries with your boss. I hope Alison’s excellent suggestions stand you in good stead. I am a kidney transplant recipient and I would absolutely not be comfortable with accepting a kidney from my boss either. He seems like a nice guy, but he really needs to back off and let you make your own healthcare decisions- you’re an adult, and you deserve to have your wishes respected.
    Best of luck with your treatments. I have my fingers crossed that your boss backs down and that you find an excellent match & have a smooth transplant. It’s been almost 20 years since my transplant and my donated kidney is still going strong. Here’s to yours arriving soon and lasting even longer!

      1. Cakes & Ashes*

        I second Sedna here – except that I am a kidney donor, so you get both ends of the spectrum! (Only not the “get your dog/take my kidney” spectrum. Different spectrum.)

        I wouldn’t want to have given my kidney to a boss or co-worker (icky boundaries!), but I’m happy with what did happen. So best wishes for a good outcome, and know we’re rooting for you over here on the other side of our screens.

        PSA – And hey, if anyone out there is wondering if they could be a living tissue donor, I encourage you to go check it out. I went to Matching Donors (dot) com and had a… well, ‘fantastic time’ isn’t the right phrase for lots of blood work and abdominal surgery, but I still recommend it. The transplant teams ensure that you know exactly what you’re getting in to emotionally and physically, and as the recipient, you have control up until the moment you’re unconscious in surgery (if you change your mind at any time, your surgical team will tell the other surgical team who will tell the recipient “it wasn’t a match”). Everyone involved wants you to be healthy and happy and stay that way.

  48. DietCokeHead*

    OP – I understand your reasoning and I just want to say I wish you the very best both in establishing this boundary with your boss and also with your health. I hope that an acceptable kidney finds you and that in the meantime, treatments go as easily as possible.

  49. Youngin*

    OP, I am so sorry you are going through this, I really hope you are able to get that transplant and start healing.

    My father had Kidney disease for 3 decades before he deteriorated enough to need a transplant/dialysis. It was extremely hard on my family, so I somewhat understand how difficult it must be.

    I gave him a kidney 2 years ago, and things have been amazing ever since. I just wanted to point out a couple things (this is in no way trying to get you to accept his donation, I just wanted to clarify some of the donation process, my father was very confused about the procedure on the donators end as well). Your donator will only be out, at most, 6 weeks. I was back at school 2 weeks later and working about a month later. The pain I was in was…substantial for the first few days (walk, walk, walk, after the surgery lol). But once I was home, recovery was a breeze. The only reason I mention this is because my father had the same assumption, and it almost stopped him from allowing me to donate. I would hate for you to miss out on a donation (not from boss, of course) because of that assumption. Im more than happy to answer questions about the donation side, if you’re interested.

    Also if you feel comfortable with this, and this is an option for you and your transplant team, they have sort of a kidney exchange program where maybe your boss donated to someone else in exchange for someone elses hopeful donor (in another state, hospital, wherever). Maybe him being kinda removed like that would ease your mind?

    If not i wish you tons of luck and love OP <3

    1. Youngin*

      I hope my comment didnt come off rude or snooty, Ive just been really invested in this since it touched my family and have become somewhat of a donor activist since then.

    2. OP*

      I appreciate the info! I don’t like the idea of my boss donating in an exchange, because again, he’d be doing it for me. But my husband is willing to do that and we’re in the process of the testing for it. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s a great program for those who are able.

  50. Kidney Doc*

    This is going to be controversial, but I say take the Kidney! If you had found you had accidentally ingested a deadly poison and your boss offered you an expensive antidote, you would put aside your feelings of discomfort and not wanting to owe him and you’d take it. Dialysis sucks. It has incredibly high mortality and every extra year you stay on it decreases your life expectancy even if you do get a kidney eventually. And your health could turn for the worse at any moment and you’ll no longer have the option of getting a transplant.

    Also giving a Kidney does have risks, but they are minimal and they are disclosed many times throughout the process.
    Normally I’d shy away from taking big gifts from a coworker. But not when the gift is literally your life.

    Plus the fact you work at a large organization like a hospital makes it much less likely that he could retaliate unilaterally against you if something did go sideways.

    Work discomfort should not prevent you from doing something that might save your life.
    He might not even be a suitable donor anyway. And even if there is a tissue match a 60 year old might have many things such as high blood pressure or diabetes that would disqualify him. But you owe it to yourself to try.

    PS. I realize that you should do what you want but I had to add that perspective. Good luck in whatever you decide and with your health.

    1. Kidney Doc*

      All that being said, if you have another option, then by all means take that, but if you don’t, please at least consider taking the Kidney from your boss.
      It really makes me sad for humanity that many folks are attributing negative motivation to this guy for making an incredibly generous offer.

    2. Sedna*

      Ah Kidney Doc, I appreciate your thoughts here! I have to say though, as someone who’s also needed a kidney (and fortunately got one & is doing well with it), I disagree with your assessment here. The most important thing that doctors have done for me in my various medical excursions has been to /listen to my wishes/. OP has made it clear that she doesn’t want this kidney. I’m sure you’re familiar with how ethically and emotionally complicated organ donation can be, and I hope you’d respect your patients’ decisions on how to handle their own healthcare and their own bodies. OP may be making a different decision than you would, but it’s hers to make.

      1. Kidney Doc*

        She can absolutely make her own decisions and should. I’m just saying she should consider the Kidney given the serious repurcussions. At the end of my comment I actually said she should do what she wants, but I’d hope she would reconsider. A job of a good doc is to try to give as much info as possible. A transplant is so much superior to dialysis that most docs would be be doing a disservice to their patients if they didn’t strongly suggest it. Obviously respect a patients wishes in the end, but at least make sure eyes are wide open.

    3. OP*

      I really appreciate your insight. If your SN is accurate, I know you’re coming from a place of knowledge about how difficult this is. I have two young daughters and obviously want to do everything I can to be there for them for a long, long time.

      I appreciate you taking the time to bring up some good points.

      1. Student*

        At the very least, it’s good for you to think hard about why, exactly, you are uncomfortable with this offer, and why you put your professional relationship with your boss above his organ donor offer. The boundaries are extremely icky, I 100% agree with you on that!

        However, if I were in your shoes, I’d take up the offer of anyone at all who offered me a working organ if I thought it’s save my life. Overly-charitable boss, terrible mother, naive sibling, hated arch-enemy, best friend forever, adorable dog – if it works, I’d grab it’s kidney and run with it. I’d feel bad about it. I wouldn’t go out of my way to ask those folks for kidneys, because boundaries. I’d feel bad about eventually quitting from a boss who donated an organ to me. But I’d still take it if offered, rather than gamble on the organ donor wait list.

      2. JSPA*

        Maybe look into an organ donation chain. Boss may not be your best match, anyway. And it would also save you from feeling that you’re carrying a chunk of boss inside you. Plus, that way, you’re ALL doing something good for someone.

    4. Youngin*

      Yes! I somewhat agree. Only because it could be life saving, and as you said he probably wouldnt be a match. I donated to my father 2 years ago and the process was scary of course, but really not awful. I respect OP’s wishes though, seeing my dad after the surgery was exciting but im sure it might be uncomfortable when its someone in a work setting.

    5. Princess Cimorene*

      While I wrote my main comment from a place of respecting OP’s wishes, I know I feel the same way as this comment here, if things get dire. I’ve had friends who’ve been on dialysis and received kidneys, I have a friend who donated his to a classmate (when we were in high school!!!! parents signed off) and I have a friend who has had a failed transplant (rejected) and is back on dialysis and has been for years. His health is in bad shape now more than ever before. So I do agree with KD that if you get to a point where either you REALLY need a kidney and no match has been made, or the dialysis is making life and caring for your daughters really really hard, that you should give serious consideration to the offer.

      Right now, especially since youre so new to the job, it probably feels icky weird and intrusive and like it comes with so many strings. And maybe that’s the conversation you need to have with Boss. Sit down with him and tell him how overwhelmed and appreciative you’ve been by his support and offer of life saving tissue. Then ask that you and him work on strengthening your employee/employer relationship first. Maybe once you’re more confident with that, you will feel more secure down the line in 6-8 more months if his offer is still on the table and you haven’t been matched with another donor. My hope still, of course, is that you write in soon with an amazing update that a donor has been matched and you didn’t need his organ after all.

    6. CanCan*

      I agree with Kidney Doc.

      OP, your reasoning makes sense. Yes, of course it will be awkward. It’s a huge gift, but it’s one that you need – from the boss or somebody else. You may feel obligated to stay in the job. Or you may want to leave and will guilty about it. But what’s a little awkwardness, compared to having more time to live?

      If I were in your position, I would tell the boss how much I appreciate what an enormous gift it is. And that I completely do not expect it and would not feel in the slightest way bad if he changes his mind at any point. I would also tell him that I’m concerned that it would change the working relationship. But if he still wants to give the kidney – I would take it, even with some strings attached. (Unless you’re sure that you’ll be able to get another kidney in time.)

      Sorry about the unsolicited advice. You’ve mentioned that you have young daughters. You would be sacrificing some pride / personal ethics, but you’d be buying your daughters a precious gift that no-one else can give them – their mother. Let the boss and the doctors worry about the ethics.

      Good luck to you!!!

  51. TheHamsterGirl*

    OP – you mentioned that your boss knows you don’t have family, so maybe he’s worried that you’re “putting on a brave face,” if you’ve got some other friends that he can see visibly supporting you this might help as well.

    That being said – and I’m not in this situation so pardon my ignorance – but is it really worth potentially dying to avoid a possibly awkward situation in the future? If someone I cared about had a very real chance of dying, you bet I would be offering up my kidney. I would be a bit horrified if someone told me that they’d rather take a very real risk of dying over creating an awkward work relationship by accepting my kidney. Perhaps that narcissistic of me…. but you can quit and get a new job if you need to… you can’t just find a new kidney… or a new life.

  52. L. Iguana*

    One suggestion I don’t see here yet, that would apply if OP really, really doesn’t want to straight up say no, is to ask for help from their doctor. In the opposite situation where someone is being pressured to donate, the doctor can run the tests and then say “Sorry, no match”. OP will have to gauge their doctor, since some might want to take the kidney regardless of other repercussions, but I think many doctors would have sympathy for a patient being pushed into a situation they don’t want by an overzealous do-gooder. It’s possible the doctor would be willing to cover OP with a plausible medical reason why this just can’t happen. A doctor would likely also know of other kidney donation opportunities where the recipients won’t be placed in an awkward position, and the manager can get……whatever it is they are trying to get out of organ donation.

    1. I edit everything*

      The transplant process doesn’t really work that way. The transplant centers are very careful to keep the donor and the recipient sides of the process completely separate. It’s a whole, massive team of doctors, nurses, case workers, coordinators… That kind of coordination across that line would be extremely unusual, and the team might refuse to proceed.

  53. UKDancer*

    Live organ donation can stir up a lot of emotional issues (more than people expect) and I can understand why you don’t want his kidney given the possible repercussions for your professional relationship. I know my father needed a liver transplant a few years ago and I wanted to donate part of my liver being a compatible blood group. My parents were opposed because they didn’t want me to go through an operation like this so we had some difficult conversations. I started the paperwork and it’s pretty clear from the amount of psychological care that goes into these processes, that a lot of people can have lots of feelings and psychological issues about the process and the outcomes, especially if things don’t work out. That’s why there are so many procedures and safeguards.

    As it turned out before I had completed the paperwork to begin screening a donor liver became available and my father was lucky enough to receive it successfully. I had (and to a degree still have) very mixed feelings of guilt and relief and sadness and elation about the whole thing. Hollywood makes people think live donation is really easy and successful and I think it’s a lot more complicated.

  54. Princess Cimorene*

    How does boss even know he’s a match to offer his tissue to you? I suppose, if ALL ELSE fails and he’s still trying to give you his kidney, you could shut it down once and for all if he’s not even a match. Of course, if he is a match, then things would get worse because I suspect he’d try even harder.

    My hope here is that another donor (anonymous gift) is found in the near future and then you can get back to feeling better and working. Best wishes.

  55. I edit everything*

    My hunch is that your boss does not have a clear idea of what’s involved in donating a kidney. My father was looking at a transplant (he doesn’t meet the criteria though, so dialysis for life), and I was considering getting tested to donate, and it’s a complicated process. And often, the donor has a longer recovery than the recipient. It’s not like they can just unzip you, pick the part they need, and zip you back up.

    Risking your life for a family member or friend is incredibly kind and generous. For an employee? I can’t imagine he has really thought it through.

    I wish you all the best. I know dialysis is awful, in so many ways. I hope your path forward, whether it’s a transplant or extended dialysis, works out for you.

    1. Princess Cimorene*

      A kidney donor up-thread shared her story and she doesn’t feel that it was a hard process for her – aside from what you’d expect for abdominal surgery.

    2. CanCan*

      It could be the boss previously considered being a kidney donor, and was thrilled that his kidney could go to a person he knows (and presumably likes) rather than anonymously.

  56. Jan*

    Wow. What an incredibly difficult situation, OP. Your boss means well, but I definitely understand why you wouldn’t want to be beholden to him. I don’t really know what to advise, but I wish you all the best and hope a suitable donor is found with zero guilt for you! Good luck.

    1. OP*

      Ideally, my husband will be able to donate his kidney to someone else, and then in exchange someone who’s a match for me will do the same. Thank you!

  57. Koala dreams*

    If your boss indeed is as kind as you say, it will be a kindness to him to explain clearly that his suggestions aren’t helpful. The great thing with Alison’s script is that it is clear, while also encouraging more work appropriate ways for him to help. Though if you have tried the scrips and he keeps bringing up the issue, it would be totally fine for you to switch to a flat “I’ve made my decision, please don’t bring this up again”.

  58. CarrieKidney*

    I’m following this post and responses closely. I am also seeking a donor kidney. I realize that if I know the person who donates a kidney, the relationship (if any) between us will change. It is a very personal thing. The donor (rightly) feels like they’ve helped to extend your life, but you also would feel indebted to them. If the relationship isn’t a healthy one, you make yourself vulnerable to emotional blackmail from them in the future. The altruistic impulse to help someone by live organ donation is an amazing one, but it creates a very intimate connection that may not be desired. Organ donation sometimes doesn’t work as planned – bodies reject organs and surgery sometimes has rare side effects.

    OP, I’m not on dialysis yet but I’m managing my disease (IgA Nephropathy) with low potassium/low sodium/low phosphorus/low protein diet. If you would like to compare kidney notes, I’d love to hear from you.

  59. Sparrow*

    I’m also on dialysis and waiting for a kidney transplant so I have a little experience with how awkward it can get with people trying to help. The only person who offered me a kidney where I was uncomfortable accepting it was otherwise unable to donate anyway due to being too overweight so lucky for me it was easier to reject his kidney because it was due to him not meeting their requirements. If he’s not the correct blood type for you or her doesn’t meet other requirements, you could try rejecting him based on that as he can’t change it so he’d just have to accept it. Or suggest if he feels that strongly about donating, to donate to whomever is next on your local transplant list. I know it can be a really long wait in some areas so I’m sure it would be appreciated by the recipient.

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