POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 24, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 2:01 a.m. HST, Jan 24, 2011
You might not know Patrick Gartside personally, but surely you know someone like him.
When you're moving house, he's the guy walking backward downstairs holding the other end of your dresser.
When it's two days before payday and your fuel gauge is dancing around "E," he's the friend in deed digging deep in his pockets to match the handful of coins you've harvested from your dashboard ashtray.
He's that dude you call in the middle of the night when you have only one phone call.
Only, for the real Patrick Gartside, such everyday altruism is sundry stuff. What makes the 28-year-old programmer from Moiliili truly remarkable are the sacrifices he makes for people he doesn't even know.
Need blood, you say? Hand me the little rubber ball. A little low on platelets? Mi bone marrow es su bone marrow. Kidney? Why not? I've got two!
Friends think Gartside is a saint in waiting. Others wonder whether he might be a little, well, nuts. Gartside doesn't care. He figures that if he can be of help to someone, even someone he'll never meet, why wouldn't he?
It began with blood. Gartside started donating in high school and has already contributed some 40 pints.
During a 2004 visit to St. Francis Medical Center, Gartside met the folks from the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry. He signed up, of course, and six months later he was taking time off from his delivery job to undergo a peripheral blood stem cell procedure.
"I was told that (the recipient) was a gentleman from the mainland and that the procedure went well," Gartside says. "I hope it did. It's such a minor thing for an individual to do, but it can make a big impact."
Gartside was back at St. Francis for a follow-up exam a few years later when he noticed the Transplant Institute of the Pacific office and stopped by to investigate. It didn't take long for him to realize that his body housed an extra piece that someone else desperately needed to survive. What could he do? On May 1, 2008, after several discussions with concerned friends and family, Gartside allowed doctors to remove one of his kidneys so that a woman on Maui would have a chance to see her grandkids grow up.
"It's nice to know she can have a good, healthy life," Gartside says.
For all that he has been through, Gartside is in great health. His only health issues seem to be a pathological compulsion to continue helping and a severe allergy to praise.
He recently learned that it's possible to donate a portion of his liver without long-term complications. It's a matter of time before he does.
Gartside insists there is no great narrative attached to his generosity — no beloved relative who died on the waiting list, no misspent youth for which to atone. Perhaps the truth is just too simple for people to accept.
"People make like it's such an extraordinary thing, but it's really not," Gartside says. "It just feels good to help."
Reach Michael Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.