Monday, April 26, 2010

Giving Life

April is Donate Life month. Organ and tissue donation is a cause near and dear to my heart, it also used to be my occupation. I had planned to spend the whole month of April sharing stories of hope with you, but life through me a curve ball, so it will be just this week.

I want to introduce you to a friend. Becca is one of the very first people I meet when I moved into my college dorm. She was, and is so full of life and energy she draws people into her. Becca is an angel, she saved her daughter's life by being an organ donor. This is Becca's story, in her own words:

February 8, 2010

To celebrate on February 9th the 5th liver's birthday (as Natalie calls it) or the 5th re-birthday as I call it, I want to share all of this with you. Here is what I wrote 4years ago. Since Natalie is still re-listed, it seems bittersweet.

What were you doing a year ago, on this date?

I was laying in the hospital. So was Natalie.

She was having her "Dirty Rotten Liver" (in the words of Angel Haley) removed and I was having a big hunk of liver removed from me.

My mom and I arrived at the Northwestern Hospital early that Ash Wednesday morning. We had slept the night at the Kohl's house and a CMH security van drove us to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. We had all arrived the night before, and Jason and Natalie had spent the night at Children's. I didn't want to leave them there, alone the night before the surgery; that much I remember.

It was snowing and still dark as we left for the hospital. The snow was those huge flakes and glistened on the window of the security van. The hospital was just starting to wake up as my mom and I arrived. I'd been to this hospital before, when Jason had knee surgery and all the waiting rooms look the same. There we sat; I think that there was another couple in the room.

And then they called my name. I went into a room to change into a gown. It really wasn't a room, there were 3 walls and a curtain, and a TV, it was more of a pod. Anyway, I changed and then we walked with another patient to a surgical prep area. I laid on a gurney staring at the dry erase board with doctor and patient assignments. There I was, "Dr. Abecassis 0730."

After what seemed like an eternity, an IV was placed but no medication was started. I was looking at the clock. What was taking so long? Didn't they know that I needed to have surgery start at 7:30? Didn't they know that my daughter was counting on me? My mom stepped out of the room, to call my dad I think, where was she? What was taking so long?

Then Dr. Abecassis came into the room. He held him thumb at my xiphoid process and his finger at my belly button, lining up the incision area and asked, "Do you still want to do this? You can say no at any time." Without hesitation I said, "Sure." He stopped in his tracks and turned again to me and said, "Becca, don't take this decision lightly. You may die from this. Are you sure?" I sat for what couldn't have been more than 10 seconds, but it felt like a lifetime and the warmest feeling came over me (I say again, they hadn't given me any medications yet). It felt like all the love I'd ever experienced in my life wrapped around me like a blanket. I turned to my surgeon and said, "Yeah, Jesus and I are cool."

What follows is a blur at best because soon after they started the sedation medication, most likely Versed. I remember being wheeled down a hallway and then waking up 6 or so hours later, feeling, well sore doesn't begin to describe the pain. A doctor, whose name I never learned, squeezed my arm and said, "You've just reserved your place in heaven."

Help us celebrate!

How? You ask.

Become an organ donor. Do it for Natalie. Do it for all the kids (and adults) waiting for an organ. Natalie is still listed (although inactive) for a liver - this was done 2 days after transplant when her hepatic artery clotted. Be an organ donor.

Be a blood donor
- she received 24 - that's right 24 blood transfusions the summer she had PTLD (a form of lymphoma)

This is the face of organ donation.

You can read more of Natalie and Becca's story at Natalie Bear's Den.

You can find information about your local states donor registry here. More important than signing the registry is talking to y our family. Make sure they know your wishes because ultimately it will come down to them.

I'm a donor, are you?


Anonymous said...

Thank you, my friend.

Unknown said...

An instant gasp escaped me when I read "Yeah, Jesus and I are cool." What an amazing, wonderful mother. I can only hope that if my child ever needs me in this kind of way that I can have that kind of faith and courage.

Shell said...

What a beautiful story.

Yes, I'm a donor.

WeaselMomma said...

That is beautiful. Yes, I am an organ donor (according to my license.
She is beautiful and so are you.

Unknown said...

Oh my, the tears are just coming. What an amazing story. I have always been an organ donor, it's amazing how much someone might need it someday- even more startling to realize it could be our own children. Wishing this family all the strength and prayers I can- and how wonderful to feature this.

Holly Lefevre said...

That is truly an amazing and powerful story. Thanks you for sharing that with us. Faces like that are the best reason to be an organ donor.

Thanks for coming by on SITS day (last week)!
504 Main

paige said...

Nice post. Yes, I am a donor too!

Erin said...

I am an organ donor. My brother received a heart transplant almost 16 years ago at the very young age of 9. Thank you for sharing this with your readers!