I don’t talk about serious things too often on this blog. But there’s one thing going on in my life that leaves my heart heavy and that I think about every single day. My husband’s sister Kim, is waiting for a heart transplant. She’s been in my life for so long and our memories are so intertwined it’s hard to remember when she wasn’t a part of my life. She’s adored by everyone that meets her and has more friends than I could possibly count. Her positive energy brings out the best in people and everyone wants to be around her.
We’ve been waiting anxiously. Her health is declining. Every night when my kids kneel to pray they ask, “Please help Aunt Kimi to get a new heart so she feels better“. I struggle because I feel like there’s nothing I can do. Nothing I can do to make the sickness go away.
The only thing I can do is spread the word. I asked Kim to post her experience about waiting for organ donation and waiting for a heart. I think she was reluctant at first, fearing that it may come across self serving (and she’s anything but). She agreed because she knows that this is bigger than just her. Thousands and thousands of people are waiting for an organ, hoping that their turn will come.
So I’m asking you to consider it. To sign up. To do your part to spread the word. -Christy
Now here’s Kimi…
I first started seeing a cardiologist at age 14. My symptoms were inconsistent and although I couldn’t exactly keep up with my peers, I never really sat on the sidelines. As I reached adulthood, I would spend a day each August completing a treadmill test and EKG, then spend the next 364 days forgetting all about it. However, in 2011, my health began to quickly decline, and I spent most of a year searching for a correct diagnosis and treatment plan. I never would have guessed that I would find myself hoping to qualify for a heart transplant, but in June of 2012, it became an answered prayer.
Of all of the thoughts and feelings this experience has brought me, one of the most interesting has been that I think about my donor a lot. Not just every day, but multiple times a day. And I’m surprised, because I didn’t think I would feel this kind of a connection until after it happened. See…I’m still waiting for a donor…251 days to be exact.
I have been concerned about my donor since the very first day. In fact, during the winter holidays, I started hoping that it wouldn’t happen because I didn’t want things to to be dreary for the donor’s family during this, and future, Christmas seasons. I regularly think about what my donor might be doing right now, and I hope for the very best things. As I say ‘I love you’ to friends and family, I hope moments to say ‘I love you’ are embraced by my donor. When I share an entertaining conversation with a friend, I hope that my donor gets to laugh a lot. As I organize paperwork and account information, I hope that loose ends are tied up regarding important issues for my donor. As I feel peace and patience in the wait, I hope that my donor is also encompassed in peace.
I think about this so often because my donor is most likely young, and active, and believes that the next 60+ years are full of possibilities. My donor has close, significant relationships, and very likely has children. My donor is healthy. My donor may have never considered being a donor, and my donor’s family might have no instinct to make that decision in his or her behalf.
In light of that possibility, I thought it might benefit many people if I could address some of the urban legends that sometimes turn off potential donors…
Myth: If you are an organ donor, medical staff won’t try as hard to save your life.
Truth: Medical personnel’s first priority is to do everything they can to save you as the patient. They do not have access to your donor status details, and donation is not discussed until every life saving option is exhausted.
Myth: Age or medical history (such as diabetes, cancer, medications) prevent individuals from qualifying as an organ or tissue donor.
Truth: Anyone can be a organ or tissue donor. Eligibility is determined case by case, by the appropriate procurement organization. Even I am a donor…my heart is trash, but my kidneys and liver have proven themselves to be rock stars, and anyone would be lucky to have them!
Myth: There are plenty of existing donors for those who are awaiting organ transplant.
Truth: Only about 2% of deaths have the potential to become organ donors, but not all of that 2% are registered to do so. One donor can save up to nine lives through organ donation, and decrease the thousands of people who die every year on the waiting list.
Myth: If you check donor on your driver’s license, it will be obvious how things should be handled, if that time comes.
Truth: Hospital procedures regarding organ donation vary from state to state. In most cases, the medical staff will consult with the patient’s family about the wishes and intentions regarding donation. If you are currently registered as a potential donor, or are interested in doing so, please have this discussion with them. Imagine the comfort your family would have knowing that they are following your desires.
Myth: My religion does not approve of organ donation.
Truth: Nearly every religion in the U.S. officially supports organ and tissue donation and views donation as an act of compassion and generosity.
Myth: I wrote this in hopes of selfishly enlisting my own donor.
Truth: I hope that my words might impact one person to decide to be an organ and tissue donor. After eight months of waiting, I have come to terms with the idea that it might not happen for me, but maybe there will be some meaning in my experience that can positively impact the lives of others.
If you are an organ donor, chances are there will come a time when a potential beneficiary begins to think a lot about you. You will become the recipient of prayer, appreciation, and concern from an individual who is fighting for a chance at a better life. That recipient will spend a lot of time and effort to be worthy of your charity, and will spend a moment every day, for the rest of their ‘second chance’, expressing gratitude for the gift you have given.
More information is available here:
Register to be a donor now:
For Utah residents: http://www.yesutah.org/
Outside Utah: http://www.organdonor.gov/index.html
You can follow Kim’s journey here on Facebook.