Anyhoo – I want to tell you about something that I’m kinda proud of… OK, pretty-way proud of and honored to be a part of…
The Gift that Heals, a new book by Reg Green, tells the stories of 42 families at almost every stage of the transplantation process. Some are recipients, among them, a GI blinded in World War II who fathered five children, none of whom he had ever seen, whose sight was restored after 48 years by a donated cornea; a man who was so short of breath that he couldn’t walk and talk at the same time but, after a transplant, ran a marathon alongside the father of the girl whose lungs saved his life; and a police officer, shot at close range, whose wounds were so large that his rescuers had to put their fists in them to slow the flow of blood.
Others are donor families who, though numb with pain, put their grief on one side to save the lives of complete strangers or living donors, people who undergo an otherwise entirely unnecessary operation to donate a kidney to someone they have never met, because “they need it more than I do.” Still others are on the waiting list, like the woman in the prime of life terrified that unless a donated kidney comes soon her son will be left without a mother. Professionals also tell their stories, such as the transplant coordinators, who have to ask bereaved families if they will give something more at the worst moments of their lives, and the pilot of the aircraft racing to deliver organs to dying patients.
“The sobering fact is that any one of us could need a new organ or tissue to save our lives -- and virtually every one of us could be a donor,” Green writes. “The results of transplantation are astounding. However many times it happens, an inert organ, that has been taken from someone already dead, and springs suddenly into life in another dying body, still seems to most of us to have more in common with science fiction than regular medicine.”
In the organ donation and transplant community, Reg Green is pretty well known for a book he wrote about his precious son, Nicholas, titled “The Nicholas Effect”. His seven-year-old son, Nicholas, was killed by highway robbers in 1994 while vacationing in Italy with his family. His parents agreed to donate his organs and corneas, which went to seven Italians waiting for transplants. Reg and Maggie Green spoke openly to the media, with no bitterness, about their loss and decision. The world took the story – and the Greens – to its heart. Organ donations in Italy have tripled since Nicholas was killed so that thousands of people are alive who would have died.
I’ve only started reading The Gift that Heals, and I feel it’s beautifully written. I skipped to chapter 19 & 20. Chapter 19 is about my journey. And, it’s about my beautiful donor, Kari – and her family and their decision. And it’s about the precious lady who has Kari’s heart, Sandy. (It’s my favorite chapter…) Chapter 20 is about Penny Pearson. Penny and Michele were the procurement nurses who looked out for me while I waited – I adore them both. Michele is the procurement nurse that brought me Kari's lungs.
The Gift that Heals has been published jointly by United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and the Nicholas Green Foundation. I’ll post again about Reg’s book – maybe I’ll get my Jenn to review it, since she seems to do that quite well! I’m very excited about the book – I think Reg Green is an amazing man – He’s telling the world a little more about my heroes, Kari and her family, and that means the world to me… He’s telling the world about so many donors, donor families, recipients and the folks who help bring us together. And I’m so honored to be a part of that…