Last weekend, I spoke at a Donate Life event designed to encourage and support transplant recipients and organ donor families.
I was nervous about talking because my being an organ recipient is such a private part of my life. I am grateful that someone donated lungs to me almost two years ago. I cherish this gift.
It's such an odd experience because I can't thank the person who helped me. I can't celebrate life with the person who saved me in such a miraculous way.
But a woman spoke that evening whose son had died, and he was a registered donor. His organs went to seven different people. It was such a moving talk. I was deeply affected by what she shared and her son's sacrifice. It made me think of two things.
1. When you die, you don't need your organs anymore. You can save people's lives by donating them. It's hard to imagine this when you're alive -- just the thought of someone else getting your organs is an uncomfortable feeling. But it's the ultimate clutter bust to register to be a donor while you're alive, because you're admitting that all these organs will not serve you when you die, but they could help someone else. There's a tremendous feeling that comes from knowing that -- you can experience that joy of giving while you're still alive. I can say this because I'm a registered donor, and I know the experience of receiving that gift, and knowing that someone else may live as a result of my organs makes me feel good even today.
2. The woman who spoke about her son also made me want to meet my donor's family. I haven't wanted to until now because I really wanted to feel like the new lungs were mine. Until now, I felt fragile even though I was getting stronger every day. But now I feel like they are my body parts, and I want to thank the person who helped me at the most dire time in my life. The only way I can do this is to thank his or her family. And I haven't done that yet -- and my not doing it feels like clutter to me... (a bit later)... My wife just sat here to support me while I wrote the transplant coordinator an email thanking her and telling her I'd like to write a letter to the donor's family. It was scary, but I did it. Sometimes even the clutter buster needs help with this stuff.
April is Donate for Life Month. If you're not already registered as a donor, please check out donateforlife.net.