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Give A Million Dollar Gift That Won’t Cost You a Penny

Posted Jul 22 2011 5:32pm
This is a guest blog written by Ashley Tenczar Curran of Boston, Massachusetts.  Her husband Peter desperately needs a new liver.  He has been on the national transplant list for two and a half years.  Ashley is a dear friend of mine and an administrator of my donation/transplantation Facebook page, Organ Transplant Initiative (OTI).

Heroes of Hope

So often I will read , with sadness, an obituary of a friend or relative that says: “He/She lost their battle with ___(disease the person suffered from) and passed away “.

I will hear people speak of this person as if they stepped away from the pitcher’s mound, defeated, and limped home to sulk in their bedroom. “They are at peace, they struggled, but now they are home”.

When we speak of a person who has been waiting on a transplant list, however, I know that I could never say they “lost” any battle, for we who have been caregivers know that this “battle” that is waged on the human body is like no other. An organ has failed in the body, yet this person is alive.

When I really stop to contemplate that, it is an awesome responsibility that the patient and caregiver take on when they and their transplant team decide to be “evaluated for possible placement on the transplant list”.

First off, the fear of the transplant itself kicks in, for though research and technology has come a long way, especially with mortality rates and the new generation “cyclosporine” anti-rejection drugs that  have given transplant recipients much longer survival rates and less time spent in the hospital, but  the operation itself is mind boggling. I cannot even imagine, even after over 2 years of waiting on the transplant list with my husband, saying “goodbye” to him as they wheel him in to the surgery of a lifetime.

While one is waiting and being evaluated, there are dozens of medications that have to be prescribed, filled, changed, renewed, filled again, and taken every day. One cannot “skip” a medication that is basically functioning as your heart, liver, kidneys, and so on. I was a health professional for over 6 years, and I have trouble keeping track of all of these pills, even with all of the devices and alarms, computer programs and other ways to organize them. We struggle every single day to keep this “battle” going.

A supply of these meds has to always be on hand, and I will bet I am not alone in having dealt with hte “on call” doctor who has no idea who we are, and has to read all about our loved one in less than a minute and make a potentially life changing decision on a Saturday night to continue this ritual of keeping what is left of the organ functioning.

While one is being evaluated, the treatment must continue, and it does. Paracentesis (withdrawal with a long needle of accumulated fluid around the abdomen), Thoracentesis, (fluid withdrawn in much the same procedure around the lining of the lung), Colonoscopy, Endoscopy, Cat Scans, Ultrasounds, and dozens of others, just to name a few, have been our life for the past two years.

We are the lucky ones, however, with just the feeding tube in place or my husband, because some people need to be on continuous treatments, such as dialysis, breathing machines, oxygen, and so many other life preserving therapies.

Many of these are painful, and exhausting. Yet somehow, some way, we find the will to go on.

We wait one more day, one more hour, praying that someone will pay attention to the “battle” going on in the hospital room, or home, of our loved one. We pray that someone, somewhere, will go online, or to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and fill out that form to become an organ donor “now” , rather than “later”.

Caregiver and patient, family, friends,chaplain support, medical team assistance,(and of course, humor!) all combined to keep just ONE life intact. It may seem foolish to some, when thousands are dying around the world of starvation, earthquakes , and other disasters and tragedies, but when it is your husband, your mother, father, brother, sister, or otherwise, it is the most important life there is.

This is humanity at it’s best.

This is the reason I cannot understand the missing piece of it all. Where are the organ donors? The rate of donation is astonishingly low in almost every state!

Of course there are plenty of stories I could pull at any given day from the media/ net, (or from having been in the “OTI” (Organ Transplant Initiative group on Facebook), personal stories of dear friends ),of the strength and courage of a living donor, or a deceased donor, who puts forth their life and everything that entails, and gives part of it to another human being. These stories are real, and I don’t want to underscore those absolute heroes who give freely of their own body so that another person, be it stranger or loved one, can go on and complete their life cycle.

But I cannot for the life of me understand why the rate of organ donation is so low! People always talk about charities, and non-profit organizations that they are involved in, and how the recession has caused them to have to “cut back”: but here is a place to give a MILLION BUCKS, without having to spend a dime, to someone their life back, and yet there is a negative response from so many.

I have heard so much in the last couple of weeks about “James Whitey Bulger”, the “big and scary gangster” from my home of Boston, and 24/7 media coverage about a man who murdered 19 people, who took AWAY 19 lives, and while my sympathy is with the victims of this coward, I cannot stop and compare the statistic of the number “19″.

19 people die every day in the U.S. from lack of a life saving organ.

Imagine if all of that senseless and repetitive coverage of a man who will problably never see justice shifted, and turned to something positive, a push for new organ donors to register, stories of the lives of those who have “been in the battle”.

Whitey, I dare say, would have a fit. It would be like the devil himself losing the attention of the world.

I flip through the gauntlet of these “reality shows”, from the industry of crab fishing (Deadliest Catch) to saving whales, (Whale Wars) , parking meter attendants and their exciting life, (Parking Wars) and medical shows about “real life” medical emergencies, but not ONE show about Transplants.

What about the “Transplant War”?

Those who are winning it would love to talk about it.

Here is an opportunity for an “up and coming” reality show writer to really make their mark,but for some reason, this intriguing subject rarely appears on my TV.

What could possibly be more inspiring then a” transplant reality series”? The human epic drama about a war waged against your own body. The “altruistic” demeanor of the whole situation, humanity at it’s best, and worse.

The Gift of Life that is given every single day, to little children who pass away suddenly, and hearing from the heroic parents who can actually see past their grief for even one minute to think about another person’s child is nothing short of a spiritual awakening.

I believe the Organ Donation rate would double almost over night. I am an optimist, and when a particular cause is taken up in America, it spreads like wildfire.

The people who may have needed to see this “reality show”?

The man who got shot outside a pre-school in Boston yesterday morning thought he had plenty of time, he was about 21 years of age.

Those people who die in car crashes 2 miles from their home thought they had plenty of time also.

The persons who hide behind their “religion”, without even consulting their spiritual leaders on the subject, and say “I can’t be an organ donor because I am ___” (fill in almost any religion, because I have heard them all!) Amish, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Christian, …all of them are religions that absolutely encourage the individual to “follow their conscience” and to “support , continue, and pursue life in any way possible”. (The current Roman Catholic Pope’s words)

So, in closing, If you ARE an organ donor, if you have given of yourself, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, and dare I speak for those I know, and those I love. You will be rewarded, and you have my undying respect and love, whether you are alive or deceased.

If you have not “checked it (organ donation) out”, NOW would be the time.

If you are waiting for an invitation, I just sent you one. No need to RSVP, just go to the United Network for Organ Sharing’s website (UNOS.ORG) for more information, and to sign up online, or for locations on where you can sign up in person.  You can also become a donor on line by going to www.donatelifeamerica.com or by calling your local Organ Procurement Organization (OPO)

Oh, and “NBC, CBS, FOX, DISCOVERY CHANNEL, A+E.”…if you are watching, call me. (I don’t have your number, and have not the faintest idea how to get a hold of you)

I have a great script for your first episode of “Transplant Wars”, and the name of the first episode is “HEROES OF HOPE”.

This name is because the transplant recipients, the organ donors, the caregivers, the medical teams, the researchers…they really are “HEROES” of “HOPE”. My heroes.

*Thank you to Bob Aronson for being our “hero of hope”. He has been there for my husband and I for over 2 years, since the minute we met online, and we could never repay him for his support and love during this “battle” we are going through that seems to never end. Anyone who says you can’t make life long friends on FB hasn’t met Bob. Come join our group, “OTI” (Organ Transplant Initiative), you will be made to feel right at home!

-0-

Please view our two brand new video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart” on You
Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifyRsh4qKF4   This video was produced to promote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for it’s use.

Another important video is “A Transplant for Nurse Lori” this brave woman has Multiple Sclerosis and needs help paying her share of the bill for a procedure that can halt the disease in its tracks and even reverse some of it.  Watch the video at www.OrganTI.org.

Also…there  is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues.

We would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater  our clout with decision makers.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org . And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or  positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love


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