The Gift of Life

Today, thousands of pounds of chocolates will be given, dozens upon dozens of flowers will be sent and romance will fill the air with its warm and wonderful feelings of bliss.

So, of course, I feel the need to steer things in an altogether different direction. Not that I won’t be partaking in the festivities of the day and enjoying every minute of it. But today is a national day that is very near and dear to my heart and I want to share the information with you.

Today is National Organ Donor Day. I realize for some that is a sensitive topic and altogether none of my business. However, if you have not yet made the choice to become an organ donor, I’d like to share a story why it should be important to you.

Five and a half years ago, I got a phone call that my sister had a seizure, suffered head trauma, and had been life-flighted to a hospital four hours away from me and eight hours from my parents. My Mom and Dad drove to my house and then I drove them to the hospital where we quickly discovered there was no hope for recovery. My sister was already brain dead when we arrived. A very kind doctor approached my parents with a request that they give permission for my sister to become an organ donor. After a brief consideration, they agreed.

Up until that moment in time I don’t know that any of us had given much thought to becoming an organ donor or what it could mean.

My sister, who had suffered epilepsy, a brain tumor and myriad other health problems during her life, was not a contributing member of society. She was dependent on the care of my family and others until her death. But what she couldn’t give in life, she more than made up for in death.

Although we may never know how many individuals and families were blessed by that one decision my parents made on her behalf, I’ll share with you what I do know.

There was an infant burn victim who received much needed tissue to bring healing.

A scientist, who had gone blind in the prime of his life, was able to see again and described in vivid detail the colors of the world he opened his new eyes to – including the smiling face of his first grandchild.

A young mother of three no longer had to brace her children for life without her and instead spent the holidays rejoicing over a gift beyond her ability to comprehend.

And Helen, sweet lovely Helen…. she wrote my parents a letter that to this day still makes me cry every time I read it. I don’t even know if Helen is her real name. She was born in a war-torn country during World War II. She and her husband spent 15 years surviving a civil war before finally immigrating to America where they chose to raise their family. Helen  discovered that the one kidney she had was failing. After time spent on dialysis, she knew she was fighting a losing battle. On the very day she decided to tell her husband to start making plans to go on through life without her,  she received the call that a kidney – my sister’s kidney – was a match.  Helen said she thinks of my sister often and considers her as a beloved daughter who gave her the gift of life.

I  like to think that someday I might be walking down the street and smile at a stranger  – a stranger who can see, or a mother who was able to watch her children grow up, a young person who recovered from a freak accident because of the skin grafts received, or a lovely woman named Helen who received another chance at life because of my parents making one simple choice that changed the lives of so many.

Including ours.

Especially ours.

It just takes a moment to become an organ donor. It doesn’t cost a thing. But the blessings it can bring … those, my friends, are priceless.

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