In the past month I have had the opportunity to witness the incredible benefits that one person can make when they decide to donate their organs at the time of death. Most of us don’t like to think of the day when we will no longer be on this earth, much less consider that eventuality when we are standing in front of the drivers license registrar and asked if we would like to become an organ donor on our drivers license. As each of my children have completed drivers ed and then successfully passed the behind the wheel test, I have urged them to check that box on their forms. Just imagine your mother telling you what to do even when you are dead!
Last month one of my friends from medical residency received a new heart and kidney as hers had been slowly failing due to previous chemo and radiation from Hodgkins lymphoma. She was fortunate to find a match within a few months of being placed on the transplant list as her heart was tiring quickly and wouldn’t have lasted for the usual 8-10 month wait. Someone had to die for her to receive an extension on her life. She has always been a person who fights for the under-served and I would like to think that this life extension allows many more individuals to benefit from her new and improved heart.
A short time later, my daughter had the misfortune to get tackled in the Homecoming powder-puff football game and tore one of the ligaments in her knee, the ACL She required surgery and the decision was made to use her hamstring tendon as her new ACL as it is stronger than a cadaver tendon. During surgery, it was discovered that she had very short and narrow hamstring tendons and they would not suffice to repair her ACL. Luckily, cadaver tendon was available and the surgeon was able to augment the repair to ensure that she has the strongest knee possible for skiing and soccer in the future.
While 95% of Americans support organ donation, only 54% sign up as donors. 117,000 people are currently waiting for a transplant and 20 people die each day while waiting. We can’t control when we lose our lives, but we can control how we want to be remembered. Marie and Molly have a new heart, kidney and knee due to the generosity of others. Please consider signing up to be an organ donor.