I've done a lot of seemingly crazy things in my life, usually for fun. Two years ago I donated a kidney to my husband out of love. And on Saturday night, I hiked 3,267 vertical feet up Aspen Mountain to support organ donation (well, and because there was lasagna and beer at the top).
The day arrived, and I lay on the bare operating table, with my eyes closed and my mind at peace. When I opened them three hours later I knew that someone had just received the gift of life. I smiled as I knew that I had just joined the smallest club in America.
How did a 31 year-old Tennessee woman, who is mother of seven children -- one critically ill --become best friends with a single, 24 year-old from Philadelphia? Two years later, I'm still trying to sort that out myself.
It's a special day for me, because I've seen firsthand the ways a kidney transplant can change a person's life -- I was able to donate my left kidney to my husband Bryan in 2012. How many couples get a wedding anniversary and a "transplantiversary?"
Your life should not depend on your ability to understand the doctor's written instructions. Simply not having a Spanish-speaking health care provider answering critical care questions can mean a patient will suffer and likely die. This is a problem getting bigger every day.
The shortage of available kidneys for transplantation leaves many people on burdensome dialysis for years, while others die awaiting a functioning kidney. Still, a thriving business takes place underground and in black markets worldwide.
As a bereaved parent -- for my own daughter and now for the daughter-of-my-heart -- I know and trust St. Augustine's words to be true. For you see, I have no doubt that Sarah was holding out her hand to meet Ashley on that path, and they are best friends together again.
Altruism makes wonderful private policy, but as public policy it is a qualified failure. Our current system, in place since 1984, runs on voluntary donation and, as a result, presides over the needless deaths of about 7,000 people each year.
Throughout the United States, more than 115,000 people are currently waiting for organ transplants, and last year almost 7,000 individuals died waiting. Roughly the same number will die this year too. "That's equivalent to 13 747 jets filled to capacity crashing every year."
In the process of giving bone marrow to my dad, I have discovered that we all have the power to change and possibly save a human life. Perhaps our hearts and minds, like fresh new cells, can open up a new world of possibility -- both for the one who receives the gift, and for the one who gives.
Organ donation is an important part of our giving back to those who are awaiting a functioning organ when our bodies no longer have need of those organs. It is also a very individual and private decision that one should consider while one is still healthy.