Five months later, as messages about National Donate Life Month start circulating in newscasts and Facebook posts, I took some time to reflect on my experience with organ donation and share my thoughts in hopes that others will see the impact an organ donor can make in the life of others, and encourage everyone to register to be an organ donor.
Last year I was nearing death’s door. My body needed a new liver, but all I could do was keep waiting until a liver became available, while hoping I didn’t get too sick to be able to receive a transplant. I was lucky enough to have a liver become available, but one in three people on the waiting list aren’t so lucky.
Having first-hand experience as a liver transplant recipient, I’ve experienced how organ donation helps both the giver and the receiver to find peace, joy, and hope in the new beginnings that are born from moments of tragedy and despair.
In order for me to live, someone had to die, but rather than focusing on the moment of despair and loss, my donor and those who loved him or her had the foresight to choose to give the gift of life. Their gift gave me hope, and hope to many others facing pain or death. Donation truly is a gift of love.
Because of an organ donor and their family:
- My wife and I, for the first time in our married life, have been making plans for the future without asking the question, “Will I still be alive?”
- I get to swim in the ocean with my family this summer for the first time in four years.
- I get to look forward to making many more happy memories with my friends and family.
- I get to dance with my youngest two daughters on their wedding days.
- I get to play with my future grandchildren.
- I get to be social again and renew acquaintances with old friends.
- I get to run, jump, ski, golf, camp, hike, fish, boat, and enjoy the great outdoors.
- I have the opportunity to help and serve others for a little more time as I journey through life.
Because of my transplant experience, and through organ donation, I’ve learned a few things, too:
- We all have struggles and obstacles to overcome, but we can’t do it without the love and assistance of others.
- While everyone has different beliefs, I made a good decision to choose to put my faith in others and in God.
- I wouldn’t be here without the many skilled physicians, surgeons, nurses, technicians, and support staff who provided outstanding care at a very difficult time in my life. I’m grateful they chose a path of compassion and healing in their own lives, and I want them to know their concern, compassion, and effort are greatly appreciated.
- Most importantly, I’ve learned that I’ve been given a gift and a renewed opportunity to do good and make a positive difference in the lives of others. The loving gift of my donor was a very personal gift of life, given so that I might live! For this, I am forever grateful.
Thank you. Thank you for the gift of life and the blessing it is to me and my family. I urge others to register to donate so that even in times of tragic loss, renewed hope and joy might be found. I’m trying to pay my gift of live forward by committing to do good in my little corner of the world. This is my experience and my prayer. Thank you. Thank you again for my new liver… from the bottom of my heart!