Don't take your organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here.I remember this slogan from a button my Mom wore on her jacket. Those were trying times; anxiety ruled as we waited for the beeper to sound like a trumpet of hope. My mom was waiting for new lungs that would offer her breath of life. She was a petite woman with lungs to match. We were warned that it may be a lengthy wait to find organs small enough for a proper fit.
Organ donation is the ultimate gift of hope. To this day nothing has rivaled the sheer euphoria of that phone call telling us that they had lungs and to get Mom to the hospital pronto. In an instant that little ember we had kept alive burst into a blaze of hope; everything seemed possible. "We're on!" was her response when I asked her if she was scared. She was out to the car barely before I hung up the phone. It was all I could do to whisper silent "thank you's" as profound gratitude washed over me.
As part of the lung transplant program, Mom and I met 17 other families who were in the holding pattern of regular therapy and exercise as they waited for their miracle. It made organ donation personal for me. The drawn, exhausted faces of the people whose lives hung in balance were emblazoned in my brain, and when they disappeared after waiting too long, we were collectively devastated.
My Mom received the ultimate gift of life and enjoyed one year of perfect health and a second year of life in which she battled rejection. I asked her if she would do all over again, knowing what she knew and she said, without hesitation, "Of course! I lived didn't I? It was better than the alternative."
Years after her passing, my mom's younger brother died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. He had signed his donor card and as result, at least five people had second chances at life.
There are many different perspectives on organ donation, but to me, it is simply "paying it forward". To you who have signed your card, bless you. To those of you who intend on donating, please share your wishes with your loved ones.