Nation/World

Kidney donor defends decision

DENVER – A man who donated a kidney to a Colorado man he met through a Web site says he should be considered “a hero,” and insists his past – including more than $8,000 in overdue child support payments – has nothing to do with his decision to help.

“As bad as things are … I’m still glad I did what I did,” Rob Smitty, a part-time photographer and food distributor, told KMGH-TV of Denver late Sunday.

After last week’s highly publicized operation, it was disclosed that Smitty was wanted in Tennessee for allegedly failing to pay child support. Authorities there had sought to extradite him, but a Bradley County (Tenn.) sheriff’s deputy said Smitty was not in custody.

Authorities said Smitty owes his ex-wife $8,100 in child support and medical payments. He told the television station he planned to attend a court hearing scheduled for Nov. 9.

Kidney recipient Bob Hickey of Edwards was discharged Sunday from Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Lewis said. Smitty, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was discharged Saturday.

Smitty, 32, and Hickey, 58, met through MatchingDonors.com and Smitty donated his kidney Wednesday. Smitty said that a week ago nobody knew or cared who he was, but since news of his donation spread and his criminal record has come to light, he has felt like a “media martyr.”

Smitty said he feels his past has no relevance to his decision to donate a kidney.

The donation was believed to be the first organ transplant arranged using a Web site, and has raised considerable debate about such transactions.



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