We always value comments left on our posts here, even though I’ve been posting a little less often than I should be – I’m going to work on that… A donor Mom left me a comment the other day. We later connected and she told me about her daughter, Ava – and I told her about Kari… Ava is pictured above.
Ava’s Mom, Tamara, shared a very nice op-ed piece she printed in the publication she edits – this was printed a little over two years ago, and I think it’s worth sharing with you:
Through loss and death comes hope and renewed life
By Tamara Thomas
Originally published July, 2008
Editor, Wickenburg Sun
About seven months ago while my daughter was home from college for Christmas, she happened to notice my driver’s license.
“Hey! You’re an organ donor,” she remarked. “How’d you get that sticker? I want to do that.” I told her it was as easy as logging on to servicearizona.com and requesting to be a donor.
“Motor Vehicle Department will send you a form, you fill it out, send it in, they’ll register you and send you a sticker,” I explained.
“Cool,” she said. We went on to discuss the importance of being an organ donor, the possibility of saving lives in death. How innocent that conversation was.
Seven weeks ago, on May 21, I found myself at my daughter’s hospital bedside in shock, faced with the hard reality that she would never recover from her multiple injuries suffered in a car accident. I was faced with the decision to “pull the plug.”
“There are other decisions to make,” said a soft-voiced woman, the chaplain who had also lost an 18-year-old daughter to a car accident four years prior. She reminded me that organ donation was an option.
I immediately recalled that casual conversation from last December and, through my tears, said, “oh yes!” I was soon introduced to several people representing Donor Network of Arizona.
Along with the chaplain and the attending medical staff at St. Joseph’s Trauma Center in Phoenix, the Donor Network people were some of the kindest, most caring people I have ever met. They explained things gently, shed tears with me, and asked about my daughter. They even requested that I bring in photos of her to place by her bedside for the remaining time she was there.
“So we can know who this marvelous young lady is, who will be helping to save so many lives.”
So what does it mean to “donate life?” It means my daughter has saved five people. There are five families who are not grieving. There are five people who are living, who are stronger and will be with their families longer, because she gave her organs to them.
Abigail’s heart was gratefully received by a 57-year-old Arizona man, and he is recovering well. He is married and has three children. Her liver went to a 66-year-old woman, also from Arizona. She too is progressing well. A 37-year-old Arizona man received her left kidney and pancreas. He is doing so well that he was able to return home four days after surgery. He is overjoyed to be off dialysis. My daughter’s right kidney was received by a 58-year-old woman from Iowa. Her needs were specialized and the matching was critical, and apparently, Abigail was a perfect match. She is doing well. She is married with six children. The double lung transplant was received by a 67-year-old woman from Arizona. Her recovery has been nothing short of excellent. She has three children and a number of grandchildren. Both she and her family are overwhelmed with the “gift of life” from my daughter.
Abigail’s giving has and will go further as other life-saving tissues will help burn victims, people suffering from tumors and other illnesses where living tissue can assist.
I know many people who, like my daughter, have thought positively about organ donation but have not done anything concrete about it. Make this the time to stop in to MVD or log on to the Web site (servicearizona.com) and click on “organ donor” on the right side of the page. One never knows whether there will be an opportunity to do so tomorrow.
Some facts about organ donation: Although a person has requested to be an organ donor, it is finally up to the survivors – next of kin – as to whether any donations will be made. Should a person suffer illnesses or other issues that prevent organ donation, he or she can still give life and benefit others through full-body donation. Abigail’s body went on to medical research through the International Institute for the Advancement of Medicine, where she will continue to give. Visit www.dnaz.org and www.iiam.org for more information.
Some things have changed since Tamara wrote this piece… More than 40 states, including Illinois, Iowa and Arizona, are now “First Person Consent” states – meaning that your registered decision is binding, and your survivors – your next of kin – cannot override your decision. If you’re from Arizona, you can follow the links Tamara referenced above. If you’re from anywhere else in the United States, you can find where to register to become an organ donor at www.DonateLife.net – if you haven’t done it, think about doing it today.
And, you can find more about Tamara, and about her daughter, Ava, at Tamara’s blog at www.WhereThereIsLife.com