“We knew with that phone call, we would be celebrating while another family would be grieving. It was bittersweet, that Momma could live at the expense of a stranger’s death.”
My mother wiped a tear away under her sunglasses as we drove into town. She was explaining the complex emotions of her family as her mother, my grandmother, waited for a life-saving double heart/lung transplant. It was one of the first of its kind, and Debbie, a non-smoker, needed it desperately with her rare and fatal lung disease. At 35, she was a wife and mother of three. My mom was the eldest at 13, and my two aunts were 11 and 6.
“It was the end of ball season,” my mom recalled when Debbie moved to Houston for the summer to wait for someone else to die. “I wanted Momma to live. I didn’t want anyone to die.” If I could speak to that young man’s family, I would tell them he is my hero. His organ donation added 18 years to my grandmother’s life. She got to see all three of her daughters graduate high school, and she got to be my grandmother for 13 years.
The conversation came up when we were discussing the sad story of Sarah Murnaghan, a 10-year-old girl in dire need of a lung donation. The thing is, transplants for children are rare because children don’t die as often. Plus, very few adult lungs fit the cavity of a small child.
Before you read anything else you must understand this: no one, not me, not my mother, wants a sick child to die. But there are a few things the media is not shedding light on, and I have an issue with that.
No news article I’ve read has mentioned where on the adult list Sarah falls now. If I had to guess, there are now other people below her. Who makes this decision? Why should one person be given preference over another? How does one decide who has more reason to live than another? I don’t want to know the answers to these questions. As happy as I am for Sarah’s new hope, I am also sad for the people who are now bumped down the list.
And the biggest kicker of them all: no news article I’ve read has stated the reason Sarah and 120,000 others across the country have been waiting for years is not a policy statement, but the lack of organ donors! Only 28,000 organ transplants were performed in 2012. Just think if more people registered to be donors.
Eighteen people will die today waiting for an organ donation.
You should know that Sarah is not alone. Her family is not the only one to suffer and fight and hope and fear. I pray tonight that Sarah gets an organ donation. I pray tonight that families make the decision to donate life. I pray tonight that I can influence others to make the right choice to register to be an organ donor.
You can sign up here. It’s that easy.