Donate Life – And Save a Life!

As parents I think you learn to live with the fact that there are a lot of good intentions that go wrong. The other day I was so impressed after a long fun day of playing at the park, picking up bugs and playing in dirt I was pleased that I was able to wash both kids hands before loading them back into the car. I was smiling to myself, knowing that they would most likely zonk out and I glanced in the rear view mirror to take a peek at them. As I look lovingly back in the mirror I see Gavin actually licking the bottom of his shoes…

So when I saw the beginning of the show, Men In Trees, they happened to be doing a storyline on kidney donations. I thought I would watch it and see what they had to say. While I am sure that they did not have the intention to demote organ donation, I feel that they did an injustice to it. The storyline was that a woman was going to donate her organ to her male friend. Luckily, someone else stepped in to donate the organ because she and her boyfriend decided to “save” their organs for each other. While it is a romantic idea at the surface and typical TV drama, I feel it plays into many fears about organ donations. You could be saving your organ for someone who you are not a match with, while others wait clinging to the last grips of their lives. The point is simple, if people waiting for a transplant don’t get one, they die, there is nothing romantic about it.

Donating life has been one of the best experiences of my life. Yes, it hurt, I can’t tell you that it didn’t, but today I am fine. It took about five weeks for my body to adjust and heal, just as it would from any other major surgery, but it is a drop in the bucket when you look at the timeline of your life and that of whom you save. The truth is, I actually came out better after it. It made me realize how precious my health is and recommitted me to protecting my health and reevaluate what I wanted for my life and kids. In fact, if I could grow another kidney I would donate that one too. With April being donate life month, I strongly feel it was important to point out some basic facts about organ donation.

Eighteen people a day die waiting for an organ donation. In Wisconsin there are almost 1,600 people on the waiting list for an organ donation. Nationwide there are 74,366 waiting for a kidney transplant since January 2008. Fifty percent of these people are under the age of 49 and every 13 minutes another name is added to that list.

Anyone can be a donor, even people above 70 years of age with preexisting medical conditions. Many myths about organ donation are untrue. All of the widely known religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism fully support organ donation.

One day, Gav will most likely be on that list for his second transplant. One day, someone you know may be one of those thirteen names added to the list. That list should not be a death sentence but a promise of life. We all have an opportunity to give the greatest gift, that of life, through organ donation. If you have questions, or are interested, I strongly encourage you to look at the following websites: www.unos.org, www.donatelife.net and www.uwcopo.org. If you have any questions about being a live donor, please feel free to ask. You have more of a chance to die in a car accident than on the table as a donor…so in essence every time that you get behind the wheel, you are taking a greater risk than I did.

Tell everyone that you want to be a donor. In Wisconsin we only have about 50% of our state population who have committed to donating their organs to those in need, we can do better. Be proud of your decision, and know that you are going to be saving multiple lives with your gift, that is a hero’s legacy!

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