Giving the Gift of Life
April is Organ Transplant Month – a time to consider how you can give the gift of life to someone when you no longer need your organs or eyes, or tissue because you are cared for in the very presence of God.
I have been an organ donor since I was a teenager. I have been a hospital chaplain and share in the holy experience of watching a family make the difficult decision to sacrificially give the organs of their loved one to someone who needs them. I have prayed with parishoners who have been waiting for a donated organ to offer them hope and life.
But I am now on a different part of the journey. My husband, Rev. Mike Jones, is on the waiting list for a transplant kidney and liver due to his being infected with hepatitis C from blood transfusions years ago. I now know more intimately what it is like to seek God’s compassion as you try not to let the numbers (cancer scores, blood counts, levels of many kinds, meld scores, how many days you have been on the list) control your life.
Mike has such a wonderful attitude. As someone who has lived with chronic disease since college, he has already outlived many speculations by practicing medical folks about how long he would be in this world. He is not afraid of dying, he just really enjoys this gift of life and wants to live it as long as it is given.
We have been surrounded with kindness and prayers by so many. He has gone through many procedures and therapies to strengthen his body and continues to share his wonderful sense of humor and Christian witness. It is projected that his body will wear out soon if he does not have a different liver and kidney to provide the filtering that his body needs. It is very humbling to know that this is not possible without someone else’s grief.
In conversation with the many wonderful folks in the transplant process, I have been shocked to learn again the small number of folks who have discussed transplant donation with their family. The coordinator of our program say that many of the families that are waiting for transplants admit they have not talked and prayed through decisions that help them make this final act of love and generosity. It is so much easier to have this conversation and make the decision when you are not in the midst of shock and grief. Not just for my Mike, but for so many, I urge you to do so.
Eighteen people die each day waiting for a transplant. One one in three who are on a waiting list ever receive a transplant before they die. Every 10 minutes another name is added to the national waiting list.
There is no age limit. Please prayerfully consider being a donor.