Humbleness, humility, and generosity were never words used to describe a younger me. That’s probably true of most people, relatively speaking, as they age.
The one choice I wish I would have made earlier was to be an organ donor. For whatever myths I believed, whether it was that I might not get the life saving treatment at a time that I needed it or that my adult organ would go to someone who had irresponsibility lived a life that ruined their organ.
It doesn’t matter any more, but the inertia of not being an organ donor stuck with me until relatively recently.
In January 2014, my niece had her first open heart surgery at the age of about 4 months. She had a pretty severe congenital heart defect (CHD) called an AV Canal. Surgery was required to fix it.
The surgery went quite well according to the doctors, we even celebrated with Jeni’s ice cream in Columbus since we were at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
I don’t know what time it was, but we were awoken by a call from my brother-in-law that my niece had a significant setback and her heart had stopped. On icy roads, I ran stop signs to get my mother and I there to support our family as fast as we could.
The fear that we would lose my niece that night is still so vivid to me that I can’t even type the story without reliving the emotions.
My niece clung to life on ECMO for the next few weeks and my sister never left her side. One of the options that was discussed was that she might need a heart transplant. Just the possibility of that caused me to do some serious introspection, not only about how I had lived my life, but also about what were some things I could do with little or no effort.
As I arrived home in VA, one of the first things I did was change my status to organ donor. It was a simple step that I could take to support my family and potentially, positively impact dozens of lives.
I encourage everyone to do the same. There is no downside - after you are gone, it allows the doctors the opportunity to share your life with others.
My niece is now four and a half years old. She’s happy and has a ton of energy. Her heart, though, never really got better. Last year, she got a heart transplant. Another compassionate family donated that heart and my family is incredibly grateful for that gift. And, that gift changed the path of our family.
If you aren’t an organ donor, yet, please consider registering as one at National Donate Life Registry at RegisterMe.org.
On this site, you can select your state and it walks you through the process to register as an organ donor. It’s easy. Next, tell your family your choice.
We’d love to use our platform to further broadcast that message. You, being an organ donor, can change the trajectory of families. Thank you.