Criminal Lawyer Gives a Priceless Gift

This Gallup survey reports that Americans view lawyers negatively. Perhaps the survey respondents should get to know Chris Beechler, a criminal defense attorney from Winston-Salem.

This Winston-Salem Journal article describes Chris as a “clothes horse,” an “amateur comedian,” and as a “guy who looks a little bit like Fred Flintstone.” I’ve known Chris for several years through the North Carolina Bar Association, and can affirm that he is as nice a guy as you would ever hope to meet. But the best way to characterize Chris now is as a lifesaver.

The newspaper notes that a couple of months ago, Chris was catching up over lunch with fellow lawyer Dave Pishko. The latter mentioned that his hereditary kidney disease was getting worse and that his doctors had suggested that it was almost time to start looking for a transplant donor.

“[Chris’s] reaction was, ‘I’ll give you one. I’ll get tested,’” Pishko said. “It stunned me. We’ve been friends for a long time. He didn’t hesitate. Chris can kid around, but he made sure I knew he was serious and that I didn’t have to ask.”

And so the testing began. Round after round, it’s a tedious and time-consuming process with plenty of built-in opportunities for a would-be donor to back out.

By all accounts, Beechler never considered backing out. Even though he had plenty of reasons to, including an 11-month-old son named Cash. He gathered all the evidence. He consulted his family, doctors and other donors before making his decision.

“You don’t know what to say,” Pishko said. “There’s no good way to show your appreciation other than to go through with it and try to stay healthy.”

 . . .

“Why not do this for a friend?” Beechler said. “When I thought about what it could provide for him, his family and the people he may touch in the future . . . it will cost me nothing more than time, inconvenience and some short-term pain.”

Donating a kidney is a big deal. It generally doesn’t reduce the donor’s life expectancy, as one healthy kidney is normally enough. But the donation procedure carries all the risks of any major surgery, and donation may limit the donor’s activities afterwards (for example, contact sports aren’t recommended) and may complicate the donor’s ability to obtain health insurance.

There’s a poll on the Journal’s website, asking “to whom would you donate a kidney?” Less than 10% of respondents said that they would donate to a friend – and clicking a button saying that you would donate is a far cry from actually donating. In fact, tens of thousands of patients nationwide are waiting for a kidney because of a shortage of donors.

Dave Pishko isn’t one of those patients, thanks to Chris Beechler. We are only beginning the 2012 holiday season, but Chris has already given an incredible and priceless gift.

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