Thursday, May 29, 2014

Be a donor!

This morning while doing a quick scan through my newsfeed on FB, I saw that two friends had both shared a link to a blog. Neither wrote any description of the shared link. I usually don't look at links that don't have any indication of their contents, but I did this time. The link was to a post about a couple in Canada trying to raise awareness of organ donation. The man (Jim) has been awaiting a heart transplant since January 2013....2013, that's seventeen months! That's an eternity when waiting for a new heart.

Many of you who know me personally, know that the topic of organ donation, especially heart transplants, is one that is particularly close to my own heart. I've been thinking about this couple all day. I know their story, I've lived their story. I know how hard it is to wait....how terrifying it is to not know if your loved one will receive a new heart before time runs out.

In 2001, when my own dad had exhausted all other medical options to save his failing heart, he and my mom traveled 3 hours from their home to undergo transplant testing. To be placed on the waiting list, at least here in the US, your heart has to be in very poor condition, while the rest of you has to be in very good, almost excellent condition. It's a grueling few days of testing. Then comes the meeting with the transplant team to discuss your results. My dad was given two options. Option 1 was to stay in the hospital, the team would keep him alive, and his name would be placed at the top of the waiting list for his blood type and overall body size. Option 2 was to go home, have his name placed at the bottom of the list, and likely die waiting. My dad, the thinker that he was, needed time to process what was being proposed; he told them that he had to think about it. Ha!

To make a long story short, he decided to stay in the hospital and 4 months later he was lucky enough to receive a new heart. At that time, there were 25,000 people waiting for a new heart in this country. One thing we learned pretty quickly is that checking that box to be an organ donor on your drivers license doesn't really do all that much. At least, it didn't then. It really comes down to the family. It is so important to make your wishes known to your family if you wish to become a donor. Ultimately, they are the ones who are there and can make that decision should you die. So please, consider becoming an organ donor and make those wishes known to those closest to you. You can also register with your state's organ and tissue donor registry by visiting: http://www.organdonor.gov/becomingdonor/stateregistries.html


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