Must I Donate a Kidney to My Awful Brother?

What's my ethical responsibility?

My only sibling, an older brother, is facing kidney issues and may need a donor. I dread receiving a call asking me to fill that role.

When we were quite young, he regularly beat me up, switching to emotional bullying when I was about 11. My parents never thought to intervene. As we got older, distance helped us eventually get along. But in our 50s, when I announced I was marrying, he bullied our mom into rewriting her will to ensure, should I predecease him, that my future stepson would not inherit any of the estate: He would get it all. When settling the estate some years later, he went after more than was justified and showed a marked lack of trust in me. I really don't think any of his behavior was intentionally malicious — just what he felt he deserved or needed for his own safety. At that point I had enough and stopped interacting with him, except for birthday cards. I've politely laid out my feelings in a letter; he eventually acknowledged he may have made "some errors." But that's about it.


What's my ethical responsibility? If it were one of my close cousins needing a kidney, I would most likely be fine with it. But for someone who has never been able to provide, undoubtedly because of his own childhood trauma(s), a "normal" brotherly relationship, I think this would raise old feelings of being his victim.

Subscribe Today

We hope you've enjoyed this newsletter, which is made possible through subscriber support. Subscribe to The New York Times with this special offer.



Article Image

Illustration by Vicki Ling

Letter of Recommendation

Every Year He Texts Me: 'I Love You'

Sometimes, what might have been never stops mattering.

By Jean Chen Ho

Article Image

Linda Xiao for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Sophia Pappas.

Lemon Pepper Makes Everything Better — Especially Wings

Zesty, buttery lemon-pepper wings are Atlanta's soul. But you can use the seasoning on just about anything.

By Eric Kim

Article Image

Photo illustration by Anthony Gerace


What Is Miss America, if Not a Beauty Pageant?

Maybe the contest should coldly, openly reward women for being beautiful. Give them money. Don't pretend that this is about what you can earn through hard work alone.

By B.D. McClay

Article Image

Photo illustration by Ina Jang


He Used to Run Several Times a Week. Now He Could Barely Stand.

Could an unusual drug habit account for such a rapid decline?

By Lisa Sanders, M.D.

Article Image

Illustration by Radio


How to Race Pigeons

Start them young. Give them a good home so they want to come back.

By Malia Wollan

Article Image

Illustration by R. O. Blechman

Poem: My Sister, Who Died Young, Takes Up the Task

This poem is an example of how abundant emotions can be conveyed by stripping language down to the bone.

By Jon Pineda and Victoria Chang

Article Image

Illustration by Louise Zergaeng Pomeroy

Judge John Hodgman on How to Make Your Exit

Which cult classic should you steal a line from to leave them wanting more?

By John Hodgman

Stay in touch:

Follow us on Twitter (@NYTmag) or check us out on Instagram.

Appreciated this email? Forward it to a friend and help us grow.

Loved a story? Hated it? Write us a letter at

Did a friend forward this to you? Sign up here to get the magazine newsletter.

Listen to narrated versions of our articles every week. Download Audm for iPhone or Android.

Need help? Review our newsletter help page or contact us for assistance.

You received this email because you signed up for The New York Times Magazine from The New York Times.

To stop receiving these emails, unsubscribe or manage your email preferences.

Subscribe to The Times

Connect with us on:


Change Your EmailPrivacy PolicyContact UsCalifornia Notices

LiveIntent LogoAdChoices Logo

The New York Times Company. 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018


Posts les plus consultés de ce blog

Chris Ramsey can take the heat, but what would relegation for QPR mean for black managers in the Premier League?

The Five Best Apps To Help You Lose Weight This Summer