Imagine that your child is ill and his or her only hope for survival is an organ transplant. What would you give to make that transplant happen?
I’m going to guess that most of the parents reading this blog would give anything they could, or had, to secure an organ for their child. If you’re one of those people who would do anything to help your child get an organ then stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself why you’re not a registered organ donor. If you are, then look in mirror and smile, you may have just saved someone’s child.
One of my colleagues, and favorite people, Deanna Hendrich, has experienced within her own family the life saving gift of organ donation. Deanna’s niece was the recipient of a transplant not once, but twice, and that transplant allowed her, and her family, to have more time together. Here’s the story and Deanna’s passionate plea;
My 9-year-old niece, Olivia, received a precious gift twice from the families of children who looked past their heart-wrenching sorrow to help another child. And despite her overwhelming health issues, other people benefited when she left us. For my brother and sister-in-law and our family, and for millions of organ and tissue transplant recipients and their families, there is absolutely no doubt that choosing to donate means choosing hope.”
Waiting for a desperately needed organ transplant is a roller coaster ride like no other, and words cannot describe the many emotions when that ride comes to an end because someone chose life.
April is National Donate Life Month, and what I wish, is that organ donation would become a part of our everyday conversation. That we would welcome end-of-life discussions as a way to move past the idea that medicine and technology can fix everything and that one of us will be the first person to live forever. Because they can’t. And you won’t. Neither will I.
Those of us who work in healthcare have a responsibility to create a climate in which we can honestly talk with families about what happens next when the person they love with their whole heart has reached the end. We must find a way to talk without unneeded drama or pressure about how an opportunity exists to give back and perhaps to make a little more sense of their loss.
If you are not a registered organ donor, if you have not discussed this decision with your family, your doctor, your minister or anyone else who might be part of the discussion one day, then please do so. Today. And if you are registered, it isn’t enough to sign the back of your driver’s license or sign up with www.DonateLifeMissouri.com. If you have joined an organ and tissue donor registry since 2008, your family does not have to give permission for donation to happen, but talk to them about your choice, anyway, because end-of-life decisions will not be made in a vacuum. Communication prevents surprises, especially during a difficult time, and helps ensure that your wishes will be carried out.