Dean Ovshak
(February 2008)

If you have an abundance of something valuable, and someone else doesn’t have enough, are you obligated to give some of what you have to those with less? Generosity and charity are ethical values, but they are seldom as simple as charity advocates would have us believe. You may have more than you need now, but circumstances can change. Maybe the fear is irrational, but it is still fear. There are stories of sailors who nearly resorted to cannibalism while lost at sea in a lifeboat, and then hoarded food for the rest of their lives after their rescue. There are children of families reduced to poverty during the Great Depression of the 1930s who can never bring themselves to spend their riches, much less give it away. Are they unethical? No. They are human, that’s all. Much criticism has been leveled at today’s richest professional athletes, very few of which give to charity in the manner that their extra millions would seem to permit. But most of them come from families of modest means, and it is sometimes hard to know what is too much for one person or family when the future is uncertain. And it always is.

The Scoreboard has celebrated Don Bedwell, a remarkably generous man who gave a kidney to a woman he barely knew who was suffering kidney failure. He reasoned that he had two healthy kidneys and she had none, so it was, to him, the natural thing to do as well the ethical course. But Bedwell’s act was as brave as it was generous: we have two kidneys because with something as important as kidney, an eye, an ear or a testicle, it is wise to keep a spare. Don Bedwell gave up his spare even though he didn’t know what the future heldÂ…an act of ethical heroism.

Is Dean Ovshak, a Fort Pierce, Florida police officer who also is donating a kidney to someone desperately in need of one, less of a hero than Don Bedwell? Ovshak, you see, doesn’t have two kidneysÂ…he has three.

He discovered that he shares a rare blood type with Rickey Williams, a stranger who needs a kidney transplant, and has offered to give up one of his trio so Williams can live. Yes, he’ll still have a spare; Ovshak isn’t taking quite the risk that Don Bedwell did. But he is still giving a part of himself to another for the purest of motives, and even though it is a part that most of us don’t have, it’s still his, and he had every right to keep it. You never know: he might need it some day. But Rickey Williams needs it now.

“I thought if I got three I can easily spare one,” Ovshak told Internet Broadcasting . “Even if I had two I would be willing to do it if we were a match.” The Scoreboard believes that’s true, Dean.

Ethics Heroes are like that.

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