Did you know one organ donor can save eight lives?
There are 8 lifesaving organs: the heart, 2 lungs, liver, pancreas, 2 kidneys and intestines.
Each year, February 14th, is observed as National Donor Day. This is a day to increase awareness about organ donation. In honor of this day, I have the pleasure of sharing a mother’s story. Her daughter received not one but two liver transplants within 24 hours.
Dawn and I met not long after her daughters liver cancer diagnosis through a cancer group. As I prepared for National Donor Day this year, Dawn sat down with me answering questions we feel would be vital, no matter your journey. You may be on the donor waiting list, you may be a new recipient, or most importantly you may be someone who is considering being a donor. If you are already a registered donor, this is a thank you.
Dawn agreed opening up is a continuous part of the healing process as a recipient family
. She is honored to share personal details in the hopes of saving others lives. As I know this can be an overwhelming process, I am honored to be a part of their life so I can share this with you today.
Let’s get started.
Did the transplant go as planned?
The call, the prep and all did, however we didn’t anticipate the first liver to fail or being told we had 24 hours to say our goodbyes. Nor for the magical second liver to show up and save her life!
Share with us what the recovery process was like.
It was easier than her liver resection she said, less painful. She was up walking within 12 hours. She healed well and it took a good 3 months to start feeling normal with strength and stamina etc.
Can you tell us, where you are now on the recipient journey?
My daughter is 23 months post transplant. She has dealt with a few complications. One being hepatic artery clot. This was resolved by injection blood thinners daily for 9 months. The other we are working on with stents in her bile duct.
What would you say to the giving family?
I wrote two letters, one to each family. Here’s a small excerpt…
We cried and cried, both tears of relief and despair, because we knew our tears of hope were meeting your tears of hopelessness. This felt so very wrong, yet so very magical, all at the same time…You saved us during our darkest hours. We wish somehow, we could bring some comfort and light to yours…Our promise to you, is that your loved one’s legacy will forever live on in our story, as a loving part of our family…Above all else, we wish you to know your loved one was in life and in spirit, a pure miracle. The only one that could perfectly sustained yet another miracle… our daughter.
We thank you with endless boundaries and we love you without knowing you.
Forever …Eternally… & Gratefully yours,
Your recipient family.
What would you say to those considering being an organ donor?
Remember you are more likely to need one than to give one and the blessing you contribute in legacy is very special. A part of this person lives on with the utmost love and gratitude. Words cannot express the joy this gift is. My daughter would have died at 16... if the second liver did not come. My daughter was given the chance to rid her body of a poison, cancer.
What's one thing you'd tell someone who is on a waiting list?
Breathe deeply. Trust the perfect organ will be available when the time is right. I encourage reaching out to other recipient families. Keep breathing. Keep swimming. It is a difficult time. Try to focus on what life may be like after. Write and journal your fears and feelings, then do the same for the things in your life that you are grateful for.
Anything else you’d like others to know about being a recipient?
The process of waiting on a match is out of anyone’s control. As hard as one tries to control the process, you must let go and find faith in the process. You are grooming yourself daily to be healthy as possible recipient.
After transplant is a reality check. Life is a bit different. You will help yourself by accepting there are a list of guidelines that come with your gift. You can control this part to a degree by taking your meds as prescribed and take it seriously. Identifying high risk environments that are germy. If you are in one of those places, use a mask.
Educate your friends and family about your new guidelines.
Help them understand it is crucial to your survival.
Even with advancements in medicine, technology, and awareness, the gap between those on the waiting list and registered donors continues. On February 5, 2018 there were 114,997 on the waiting list and 16,467 donors.* I don’t know about you, but this gap is alarmingly big. Every 10 minutes another person is added to the waiting list, and 20 people die each day waiting on a transplant.
Are you a registered donor? If not, please visit organdonor.gov
to become a registered organ donor. Tell a friend.
* Source: organdonor.gov
Photo courtesy of Pexels.