I have this friend, Amy. I actually kind of hesitate to call her a friend, because we've only been Facebook friends for a couple of weeks, but we've been at the same parties for years now, and I totally bragged last year that my “Happy Birthday” serenade/jam session included a musical saw, and she was the one playing it!
We finally got a chance to chat at a party last month, and we came around to the topic of organ donation. I don't remember how we got to it, but we did, and how we got there isn't what matters anyway.
Amy shared the story of her brother, Scot. He died unexpectedly a number of years ago, and her mom, Evelyn, had made the decision to donate his organs. As I thanked Amy for her family's gift, as I always do, she continued the story. Her mother had never gotten an update or thank you letter from any of the recipients. Any of them.
Today, on the eve of my own transplant anniversary, I'd like to write the thank you note that Evelyn never received, on behalf of the recipients. I don't doubt their thankfulness, and I'll continue to hope that the heartfelt notes sent to her were just lost in a filing cabinet somewhere, but in the meantime, this is all I can do. Evelyn is, unfortunately, no longer with us, but I at least want Amy to know just a bit of the gratitude that exists, thanks to this amazing gift.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
From the bottom of my kidney, thank you.
From my pancreas to my lungs, to my corneas to my liver, thank you.
I am so sorry that your beloved Scot was taken from you, but please know the lives you have saved in the process.
His first kidney has allowed me to no longer need dialysis; my blood pressure is stable, I have the energy someone in the prime of their life should have. I am able to enjoy the things I couldn't before, whether it's staying up late, traveling around the world, or having a baby. These are all things I would not have been able to do before my transplant. I live.
His other kidney, along with his pancreas, has also gotten me off dialysis, which I relied on to live. I woke up from surgery no longer insulin-dependent; after many years as a diabetic, with the daily injections and blood tests, I am no longer diabetic, and that is thanks to you and Scot.
His liver has restored my muscles to their healthy tone; before transplant, I could barely move without pain; the build-up of toxins in my muscles made every movement torture. Since Scot's gift, I am able to run and take spinning classes. I live.
His lungs have given me breath once again. When I could not get out of bed without the aid of a nurse and an oxygen tank, I'm now able to talk my dog on walks. I've rediscovered the outdoors I've always loved, and spend as much time as I can, exploring them. I live.
His heart beats inside my chest. Speeds up when the love of my life walks in the room and squeezes my hand just so, beats slow and steady when I move into my favorite yoga poses, feeling life in every cell of my being. I know that in this heart resides the love he had for you, as well. I live.
So thank you, Evelyn, from all of us.
You have given us life, and the memory of Scot will live with us always.
I know that this isn't enough, truly. It's never enough. Oprah's and Bill Gates' and Rupert Murdoch's billions couldn't be enough. It's simply never enough.
So thank you.
I also heard about this awesome iPad app, which was created to mark National Donate Life Month (April) and shares daily stories of how organ donation has saved lives: The Daily Gift
- More than 100,000 men, women and children currently need life-saving organ transplants.
- Every 10 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list.
- An average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant.
- In 2009, there were 8,021 deceased organ donors and 6,610 living organ donors resulting in 28,465 organ transplants.
- According to research, 98% of all adults have heard about organ donation and 86% have heard of tissue donation.
- 90% of Americans say they support donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor.
- As of March, 2011, there were 110,541 Patients Waiting, 1,785 Pediatric Patients
- 28,663 Organ Transplants Performed in 2010 with 14,502 Organ Donors in 2010
I was one of them.
Are you a donor? The pink dot on your license isn't enough. You need to talk to your family. Let them know your wishes. You can also register online at DonateLife.net to make your wishes known. YOU can save lives.