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.