Donate Life

Before we start the series on our miscarriage, and how we desire God to use it, I wanted to take the opportunity to reach all of you, especially my new readers (welcome, btw :) ) with a subject that is near and dear to my heart – organ and tissue donation.

Did you know April is national Donate Life month?
Don’t feel bad if you didn’t, most don’t. That’s why I’m here to educate you. 😉

All this month I’m spending my “free” time doing as much as I can to educate the public about the importance of knowing the facts about organ and tissue donation. From service clubs filled with middle-aged adults, to high school assemblies (spoke at one just this morning), to interviews on TV, radio and the local newspaper, I’m trying to cover all the bases as best as I can with the limited amount of time I have.

After all, through my double lung transplant 7 1/2 years ago, I’ve been given a gift – a gift I refuse to waste.


Did you know that just one donor can save the lives of up to 8 people through organ donation and enhance the lives of over 50 individuals through tissue donation?

Over 118,000 people in this country are waiting for an organ transplant. To put it in perspective for fellow Buckeyes, that’s the amount of people who fill The Shoe during each OSU football game and much more than most other college stadiums even hold. To put it plainly, that’s a heck of a lot of people. Supply just isn’t keeping up with demand, and something has to be done.

I don’t take for granted the fact that, unlike 18 people just today who will sadly will lose their life while waiting on the transplant list, I didn’t die but was instead given the gift of life through the beautiful gift of organ donation. All of those people who pass away today have stories; they all have family, friends and communities who will be deeply grieved by their passing. They all matter.

I realize I’m rather biased when it comes to the benefits of organ and tissue donation. Wouldn’t you be, though, if you were in my position? If you would have been dead more than 7 years ago, had someone not chosen to say “yes” to donation for you? That being said, I’m not naive enough to think that everyone who is reading this is pro-donation like me. That’s fine. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion. All I ask is that your opinion be an educated one, not just one of indifference or based upon believing myths about donation that are far from the truth. If after researching everything, you still aren’t comfortable with donation, I can accept that. I’m not going to lie. I won’t understand – or like – your decision, but I can respectfully accept it, as I should.

Before you automatically say “no,” though, please learn the facts. Make an educated decision. Be aware of the fact that watching old episodes of ER, Chicago’s Hope, House or any Lifetime movies doesn’t constitute “learning” about organ and tissue donation. Nice try, though.

If you live in the state of Ohio, join the Ohio Donor Registry. You can even pick and choose which organs/tissues you feel comfortable donating and which ones you don’t; it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing decision. If you don’t live in Ohio, learn the procedures your state has in place and be able to explain them to others, so they too may be able to “donate life” upon their passing. Do what you can to inform others. The harsh reality is people’s lives depend on more people saying “yes” to donation, on you saying “yes.”

Never think organ and tissue donation won’t touch your life, because it will. No, you may never need a transplant of any kind, and I pray you don’t, but you may need some type of tissue donation, which are quite common these days. No, you may never have an immediate family member who has had a transplant, but chances are you know of someone (or know someone who knows someone) who has had a kidney transplant, the #1 transplanted organ by far. Organ and tissue donation is thankfully savings thousands of lives a year, but thousands more are still waiting – even dying while waiting – and the list is only getting larger. The numbers aren’t just statistics but people, people in desperate need of your help.

Never underestimate the power of one, of you, to give the gift of life. Almost 8 years later, my family and I are so thankful my donor chose to say “yes.”  I’ve been afforded the opportunity to do more than I could have ever imagined when I was laying in a bed for 10 months bed-ridden, wondering if my transplant would ever come in time. I never thought I could one day say I am a college graduate, non-profit founder,  author, speaker, and organ donation advocate. More importantly than all the things I’ve accomplished here on earth are those with whom I have a relationship. Besides the Lord, those I love are my life. I would do anything for them, and they know that.  I am very privileged to be a daughter, a sister, a wife, a soon-to-be-aunt, a friend, and Lord-willing a soon-to-be-mom. Every day is a gift. I don’t take for granted the fact that my husband has a wife, and one day my kids will have a mom, all because someone chose to say “yes.”

The question is, “Will you say ‘yes,’ too?”

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3 Comments

Filed under cystic fibrosis, grace, Life, Organ Donation

3 responses to “Donate Life

  1. Staci Sunderland

    Amber,
    Organ & tissue donation is something that is also near and dear to my heart, but for a different reason. I don’t know if you remember this or not but my brother passed away in 1998 & he was an organ donor. He was only 15 when he died so he wasn’t old enough to make the decision, plus he was in a comma & couldn’t say yes or no. Since he was in the hospital for so long & on so many meds the doctors couldn’t use all of his organs, but they were able to use his heart, eyes, muscle & tissues. I only know of three people whose lives were helped because of my brother. A lady got his heart and 2 people got his eyes. Several years after my brother’s passing my family had the opportunity to meet the lady that got his heart. We also got to meet some of her family. When we meet them it was like we had known them forever. They quickly became part of our family. I was just wondering if you have had the opportunity to meet your donor family?

    • Staci,

      Yes, I remember your brother and the situation behind his passing. I also knew he was an organ donor and am thankful for your parents desire to respect his wishes and allow him to donate. I’m also so glad to hear you have gotten to meet the woman who received his heart!

      I sadly have not had the chance to meet my donor family. Due to the fact I was 19, and very frail and small at the time, the donor was most likely very young. This probably made it hard for the donor family to want to meet the recipient of any of their organs. I don’t know for sure, but that is my best guess. I did reach out to them in 2006, a year after my transplant, and would still love the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the next of kin in person.

  2. This has been on my mind alot lately, and I need to double-check my license to make sure I’m listed as a donor – it’s definitely something I want to do too!

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