“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
“Don’t think of organ donations as giving up part of yourself to keep a total stranger alive. It’s really a total stranger giving up almost all of themselves to keep part of you alive.” Author Unknown
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill
“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” John Wooden
My friend Becky’s son Shane went home from the hospital yesterday. He took with him a brand new pancreas and kidney. Well, actually not new. They have been gently used. Someone chose to share their life even beyond death and was his organ donor. Because of that priceless gift, Shane will probably no longer be diabetic and will no longer have to be chained to a dialysis machine. His life was changed…..in a matter of hours. Instead of getting weaker from the effects of his disease, he will be getting stronger every day.
We often don’t like to talk about our own mortality….and so sometimes talking about organ donation makes us a bit uncomfortable. But I hope you read this and share this….and if you aren’t already an organ donor and donation advocate, I hope you become one.
A few facts (from www.organdonor.gov):
- Someone is added to the organ donation list every 10 minutes.
- Each day an average of 79 people receive organ transplants; however, 18 people die each day because there is no organ available to them.
- As of December 2010, the ethnicity of the National Waiting List was 45% White, 29% black, 18% Hispanic and 7% Asian. While donors of all ethnicities are registered on a fairly proportionate basis to the population, some ethnicities are more prone to diseases that lead to the need of transplants. While donations cross ethnicities every day, blood and tissue matches are often better for people of the same ethnicity. So while donors of all races are very important, black, Hispanic, Asian, and mixed race donors are especially needed on the US registry.
- One organ donor can save up to eight lives.
Lest you think that me signing that organ donation card was easy, let me tell you the truth. I said no at first. The idea of it freaked me out. It took me some time to think it through and let my logic conquer my emotions. I still was a bit nauseous when I signed the card and gave my consent. But that’s OK. I finally came around and had peace about it. Now years later I have confidence in that decision. If you are struggling, talk to someone about it or at least commit some time to research and think about it. Don’t avoid the issue. Make an educated decision.
Some very special people don’t wait until death to donate. My friend Jen was one of them. She decided to donate a kidney to a stranger by going to a website, reading profiles of people with her blood type, and picking someone listed there. The first time was a charm. They were a match. Renee lives and thrives because of her decision. I love their story. I am proud and still in awe of Jen’s gift. It’s been three years since it happened.
Our bodies are so very amazing and sometimes there is just no man-made substitute for its parts. God’s work is best. The day that you die, our world will never be the same. I hope you live a very long life, because there are so many things for you to do, but we don’t come with a guarantee of years. You are unique, you are special. Your body, your self…it’s precious. But you are mortal. And isn’t it better when you share your stuff?
What if this choice to share will unchain someone from a dialysis machine, help the blind see, help someone breathe, help someone play tag with their child or help someone to be able to support themself and go to work every day? What’s normal to you, would be a great luxury to them. How would you like to know that when you are through with your body, instead of letting it just decay, you can give up to eight people new life? It will cost you nothing yet it will be priceless for the recipient and those who love them…..and an encouragement to all who hear about it. After death you can continue to give life.
Also, tell the stories of people like Shane. Start conversations. Let those struggling with the decision know there is someone they can talk to about it. I don’t believe that organ donation should be done under any sort of compulsion, but instead because it is your choice. One you believe in. Because you want a great guy like Shane to live a life that is more full, more vital and full of hope. So you can ease the fears of those who love them, like my amazing friend Becky and Shane’s precious boy Caleb. That body you were given….it was a temporary gift that will be of no use to you one day. A beautiful and amazing creation. Something that serves you well now. When you no longer need it, perhaps it can serve others.