Saturday, November 12, 2005
Yesterday was an anniversary of sorts. Not the kind of anniversary that Hallmark has cards for (at least not yet), but a pretty important one, at least for moi. Yesterday was the four month anniversary of my double (or, as they say in medspeak 'bilateral') lung transplant. I can hardly believe it's been four months already, and the difference is remarkable.
A lot of people ask me that question: "what's it like with new lungs?" Well, first of all, I haven't become a different person in my personality or attitudes (at least not yet); having someone else's organs inside me hasn't morphed me into her. :) I guess the closest thing I can tell you is to imagine yourself with only about 1/3 of your lungs working--like climbing Mt. Everest with your nose clipped shut and no oxygen. Something like that (although I've never climbed Everest, and don't plan to). I measured everything in distance--how many steps here, do I have to take the stairs, oh I have to climb stairs on the way back *in*, etc. That's not such a fun way to live your life. I was luckier than a lot of people--I only waited about two months, was never on full-time supplemental oxygen, and worked right up until my transplant (I was at work the Friday before--I was transplanted on a Sunday). But I was also lucky that I even got the organs in the first place. 18 people die in the U.S. every day because not enough organs are available: "there but by the grace of God, go I". Seriously.
So I'm going to make a plug here. This weekend is national Donor Sabbath weekend, where pastors/priests/religious leaders are encouraged to discuss organ donation with their congregations, in the hopes of both raising the number of donors in the U.S. and dispelling a lot of myths about donation, as well as letting their congregations know how their particular church/synagogue/mosque stands on the issue. I've done the legwork for you; here's what the CCC has to say:
2296 Organ transplants are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the
donor are proportionate to the good that is sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and
meritorious act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the
donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible directly to bring about the
diasabiling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.
So there you have it--a "noble and meritorious act". No matter what TV might tell you, the donation community is very much against the killing of people just for organs. It must be a donation--that's the point. In a lot of states, you can do this when you renew your license; in Ohio, the BMV has a special section on its website where you can sign up to be an organ donor. Lifeline of Ohio (the organ procurement/awareness agency in my state) has a website where you can sign up, too (www.lifelineofohio.org). You can even (at least in Ohio) designate exactly what organs you would like to donate, if the idea of donating your eyes or skin or something creeps you out.
Do it. Please. It's not hard, and, well, to be frank, you're not going to be using the organs anyway. Donors can be all ages; I know mine was a 50 year old woman. Since my transplant occured, I'm in my church choir, singing much better than before, because I actually can control my breathing to support the music. I'm working for the State, I'm writing this lovely blog for all of you folks. :) I'll be able to play with my cousins come the holidays. I can do things with my family and I'm here to amuse my friends with stories and to plan our social lives. :) I thank God every day for this great gift I've gotten, and that a lot of people who need it won't get to receive because they're just aren't enough organs to go around. I'm a daughter, sister, friend, co-worker, granddaughter, godmother, cousin....think about those people in your lives. I know that most of us would go to no end to save the life of their sibling, child, relative. Do it for someone else's family.
Life is a great thing that God has given all of us. Please consider donating your organs so that others can continue to enjoy life after you've gone. Be sure to tell your family so that they know of your decision. It doesn't cost anything, and you will bring unimaginable joy to so many people, not just the recipient. When I went back to work on Monday, so many people told me how happy everyone was to hear that the operation had gone well and I had gotten my transplant. My family, as you can imagine, was ecstatic. My friends were thrilled (although one of them commented that now they'll "never be able to shut me up").
We're coming up on Thanksgiving. I know that my family has a LOT to be thankful for this year. Please consider donating the greatest gift you can give someone else during this holiday season.
photos: top: my best friend, Tiffany, and I celebrate her twenty-fourth birthday, 1 1/2 months post transplant.
bottom: the family Christmas 2005 picture: me, my brother Bryan (20), and my sister Melanie (16), almost 3
months post transplant.