Perfect Strangers tells the story of two unique and engaging characters. One is Ellie, who embarks on an unpredictable journey of twists and turns, determined to give away one of her kidneys. 500 miles away, Kathy endures nightly dialysis and loses hope of receiving a transplant until Ellie reads her profile on an online website. Both women face unexpected challenges as their parallel stories unfold over the course of four years. Perfect Strangers raises questions about what motivates an individual towards this act of compassion. Why are we unnerved by the idea of such an extreme gift?
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I first met Ellie in 2007 when she was in the early stages of becoming an altruistic kidney donor. Articulate, insightful, and irreverent, Ellie is an ideal protagonist for an experiential, character-driven film. From the outset, Ellie granted me unprecedented access to her story. However, the primary challenge was the unpredictability of the narrative.As the population ages, the need for organs inexorably rises and the wait list for a cadaver kidney grows. Altruistic organ donation from a living donor is the new frontier that could significantly increase the supply of organs. But many people feel discomfited by the idea and policymakers are wary of the implications. Through the prism of one kidney’s journey, Perfect Strangers confronts thorny philosophical questions about acts of compassion, altruism, and ultimately, who deserves a second chance at life and at what cost.