Wednesday’s Cause: Organ Donation

What’s that saying people use about money after you die? You can’t take it with you. How true that is! Do you know what else you can’t take with you after you die? Your organs.

This cause is very close to my heart. Very, very close. To put it very bluntly, my mum would be dead if it weren’t for the fact that someone, some kind soul somewhere was willing to have his organs used by another after his death. I never knew than man and I never will, but he is a hero to my family. I’m so grateful to him.

I’m going to give you a brief overview now of why my mum needing some of her vital organs replacing. When she was 35 and we were all living in Germany, she was diagnosed with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic disorder only discovered in 1963. There are degrees of severity within this disorder and my mum’s case was severe. So severe that she developed emphysema as a result and ended up requiring oxygen throughout the day and needed a wheelchair to get around. Her lungs degenerated, made worse after a December spent in hospital with pneumothoraces and various other problems. This rapid decline lead to her shooting up the donar register. She was on the register for barely two months before the fifty-six year old gentleman sadly died and she received a phonecall to say that some potential organs were heading to her hospital and she should make her way there.

This was 4 years ago on the 23rd of March 2009. On the 21st Ireland claimed their first Grand Slam since 1948. On the 22nd Jade Goody died from her cancer. On the 23rd my mum got a second chance at life. These are things I remember from that time.

Every year we celebrate what my sister coined Happy Lung Day. We raise a glass to my mum still being around and fitter than ever. We raise a glass of gratitued to the gentleman who died and who gave the ultimate gift. We are joyful and tearful as we remember those difficult, long months of recovery as my mum faced setbacks and almost died more than once. My mum is mournful as she thinks of the fact that my daughter, her first grandchild was 6 weeks old the first time she met my mum and older still when my mum was finally discharged from hospital. She is thankful she got to meet her, and my son born last year, at all. My sister remembers caring for our mum throughout her 21st year and how tough it was, yet she would do it again in a heartbeat, I know.

So here comes my sales pitch and its very simple: give your organs after your death. You won’t need them, I promise, and someone left behind alive may need them desperately. They may be a woman in fifieth year who can’t breathe. They may be a blind man who needs a new pair of corneas to see his loved ones. They may be a young person, not yet twenty who was born with cystic fibrosis and is only expected to live a few more years. They may be someone you know and love and who you are not remotely ready to say goodbye to.

I am on the register and so is my husband. We have also registered our two children, on the basis that we sure as heck would take an offered organ for them, so it’s only right we offer in kind. I am currently investigating how to go about leaving my remains to medical science so that more can be learned from my body after my death. Because I can’t take it with me, but what I leave behind might do some good to someone else.

Please sign up to the Donar Register. It could save someone’s life.

Thank you.

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