Friday, June 20, 2008

Thank you to the donors of a heart...

for my brother who received it on June 8, 2008. Recipients of donated organs get almost no information about the organ donor initially, though long after the donation (a matter of several months), some information may be obtained, with the permission of the donor's family.

So we may never know who saved my brother's life that Sunday. We may only ever know that somebody somewhere said yes, when the hospital who was treating a dying patient asked them to donate his/her organs. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

It is impossible to express adequately the relief and joy our family felt when the yes was spoken, the papers signed, the call made to my brother at 3 a.m. Sunday morning.

"It's a good heart," said the surgeon. That meant that it was going to be a good fit for my "baby" brother, who is 6'4" and weighs accordingly. That meant that it was probably a big man or woman (probably a man), with B type blood. The flight to and from the donor's hospital took an hour and a bit, so that meant it's probably west of the Rockies. We know nothing more.

And so this is a thank you to all organ donors out there, a thank you to everyone who has checked that box on your driver's license or ID card, a thank you to families who have faced the issue of organ donation and have said yes. Your generosity has produced a miracle of new life for someone who was desperately ill.

My brother has been ill with a crumbling physical heart for 25 plus years. He has endured two lengthy (12 hour) open heart surgeries to make stopgap repairs. He has not been free of health-related anxiety for those many years, nor have we been free of that anxiety. Heart ailments seem to run in our family and though we are philosophical about it for the most part, there's always a question in our minds---will I be next?

My brother has always had the family commitment to public service; he has served his community as a volunteer ever since I can remember. We kids were raised that way. My sister has volunteered hundreds and hundreds of hours herself to adoption causes and to CASA (court appointed support of children in the foster care system), as well as to her church and a local hospice. I have been involved in BGLT civil rights issues and as a chaplain for much of my adult life, as well as working in the non-profit human relations/public education field. It's a thing with our family. Our parents modeled this life of public service for us.

And all during his years of illness, my brother has not flagged in his work in the community, whether as a Rotarian, as a Public Utilities Commissioner, or as an envoy from his church to various missionary outposts to build housing and schools. He has accomplished an enormous amount in his 57 years, including, most recently and during his most fragile years, the construction of a platinum-standard-green building to house the Washington State PUD commission.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, donors of a size XL heart to a man out in Washington State who will go on to give even more to the world because of your gift. He gives it in your loved one's name, out of gratitude.


goodwolve said...

Sounds like XL love all around!

Anna Banana said...

What a happy ending for your brother! It takes true compassion to be an organ donor. I hope the family who lost a loved one is comforted a little knowing someone else is alive because the donor was so generous.

LinguistFriend said...

Goodness, this heart replacement has been in the background of your
blog for a long time. It has played a constant thematic role comparable to those in 1940s radio shows. But it differs in having a
good outcome.
I hope that this brief comment can be posted, since my hard disk has been installed in another computer, and the indications are that even reincarnation does not solve all problems.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, all of you, for your support. It has indeed been a long haul and I am experiencing a good deal of relief these days, as are others in my family. (To say nothing of my brother!)

Dave said...

Over half of the 99,000 Americans on the national transplant waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. Over 6,000 of our neighbors suffer and die needlessly every year as a result.

There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Dave. You definitely know what you're talking about.

-Scott (Campaign Manager) said...

Thanks a ton for calling attention to the issue and sharing your brother's story. We're constantly working to get the word out about the importance of organ donation here at Donate Life Illinois and it's so great to hear a story like your brother's.

Sidenote, I noticed you're from Whidbey...I actually spent 14 years growing up in Oak Harbor! Very cool, I miss the mountains and ocean!

ms. kitty said...

Scott,thanks for your note. I am so grateful to donors everywhere and to organizations like yours and Dave's, which campaign to increase organ donations.

I live in Freeland, on Whidbey. Come visit some time!

Miss Kitty said...

WOW. Your brother (and the rest of the family) are in my thoughts and prayers. Praise be to God!

Mile High Pixie said...

Yes indeed. Words are not enough to thank someone for the second chance at life. Amen.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks for your support and encouragement, everyone. My brother continues to do extremely well and should be home this week!

ms. kitty said...
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