Have you ever really thought about the gift of life? This week I was forced to think about it. I took a group of nursing students to the office of Life Alliance, the local Organ Procurement Organization. The staff of Life Alliance work tirelessly to ensure that those in need of an organ transplant, can live. Did you know that 18 people die every day, in need of a transplant?
Four organ transplant recipients addressed the students, giving testimony about their rebirth, their chance to live when they thought they were going to die. Each one of them had a different story to tell, but their stories were powerful. They each had a sense of gratitude and an appreciation for life, a desire to give back, a desire to give thanks each day for their good fortune.
We often take the gift of life for granted. We all assume we have many years to do everything we want to do. We treat our bodies as if they were immortal, that they will take a licking and keep on ticking. Many of us believe in an afterlife, so that even if our lives are cut short, well, better will come. But in reality, this life is all we really know. Many of us view heaven like winning the lotto. We buy the tickets, we plan what we will do when (not if) our numbers hit, and fail to make the most of the here and now, which is all we can really swear for.
We need to make more of the gifts we are blessed with. But how many of us have made sure that if something terrible were to happen, our family would know that we wished to give the gift of life to others, through organ donation? Did you know that 35% of the people awaiting transplants are African American? According to government statistics, African Americans are three times more likely than whites to have kidney failure. Although donor and recipient don’t need to have the same racial background, it does improve the match.
Did you know that an organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people? And if you throw in your tissues also, you can impact the lives of up to 250 more? Corneal transplants permit the blind to see; bone grafts mean the difference between an amputation and a limb saving procedure for a teenager with a bone tumor. None of us wish to think of being in a position to give up our organs, but how would you feel if you or someone you loved was the one in need of a transplant? And how wonderful would it be if you could take a personal tragedy and turn it into life-saving miracles?
If you live in the USA, you should have been asked at the DMV when you applied for or renewed your driver’s license. Do you wish to be an organ donor? A simple question. It is required by law that they ask you. For some reason, despite the energetic efforts of those dedicated workers at Life Alliance, this question often is not asked. If you haven’t thought about it before, please think about it now.
If you were ever in a position where your organs can no longer do you any good, wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that your heart could beat on in another person’s chest? Your kidneys could possibly take two people off a rigid regime of dialysis three times weekly? Perhaps your lungs could breathe life into a young person with cystic fibrosis who struggles for every breath. You could give the gift of life to possibly eight people. And your family would get the gift of knowing that even in death you were giving, and that somewhere a piece of you lived on.
At this Christmas time, this time of gift giving, I hope you will think for a moment about the ultimate gift, the gift of life. If you are already registered, thank you very much. If not, perhaps you can check out this website to find out more information. https://www.donatelifeflorida.org/ . I hope you need your organs for many years to come, but you never know!
One Love Family! I hope you have a wonderful Friday, a great weekend, and wish you all the best for a special Holiday season.