I wish to share a true and personal story that a friend’s mother recently wrote. She is an organ recipient. My mission in posting this message is to bring awareness to the importance of organ donations. As delicate as this topic is – it is a necessary discussion that we should have with our “mature” family members.
My personal connection with organ donation is – if it weren’t for a donor, my husband’s grandson, Sean would not be with us today. A young man’s sudden and unexpected passing saved five lives. We are forever grateful to his family for passing on the gifts of life.
Here is Bonnie’s life changing story…
My husband and I recently attended a Organ Donor reception in Auburn, Maine. The purpose of this reception is to honor donor families across the State of Maine.
During the reception, serveral organ recipients shared their life saving stories. There was a candlelight vigil ceremony in honor of donors and recipients and a heartfelt moment of a slide show presentation of pictures of donors of all ages – from tiny babies, to older men and women. The event was a whirlwind of emotions and a time of reflection but I still couldn’t help but wonder if my donor’s family was somewhere around me – in this room full of several hundred people.
For the most part, donors and recipients don’t usually meet, for many reasons. Some recipients just can’t put into words to write a letter to the family of the donor. Those who do find the courage to write don’t always hear back from their recipient for one reason or another. I’m sure because it is just too painful for them after their loss.
As the program ended, I quickly visted the ladies room before leaving the building. As I was washing my hands, I noticed the woman beside me was the same person who was standing on the podium as they read out the donors names. I smiled and said “You are a donor family, correct”? She said “Yes I am”. I told her I am an organ recipient.
She told me that she recently received a beautiful letter from her son’s liver recipient. She expressed how grateful her family was in receiving this letter. I quickly replied “I am a liver recepient and I too sent a letter to my donor family. I then asked, “How long ago did you lose your son”? She said “I lost my son on September 23, 2008″. My heart skipped a beat because my transplant was on the September 25, 2008”.
I asked her where she was from and she said, “Bangor”. My heart raced and I started feeling really nervous because I knew my donor was from the Bangor area. I then asked, “could you tell me what the name is on your signed donor letter?” (recipients are only allowed to sign donor letters with first names only). When she said “Bonnie”…my heart nearly stopped. I blurted out, “That’s me, I’m Bonnie, I have your son’s liver”.
We both immediately grabbed on to each other and started crying. She put her hand on my right side, where my liver is and we both continued sobbing. I told her that I am forever grateful because I’m alive today because of her son. Through my tears I just kept saying thank you..over and over.
I never really thought I would actually meet the family who saved my life. I know that God’s hands were on us – he lead us to each other so we could have closure and find some sort of peace.
In the letter that I wrote to my donor family, I made them a promise that I would always honor my donor. I would do everything in my power to take good care of my body and my health. That I would continue in my journey, spreading the good word about the importance of organ donation. I want to tell the world that I’m alive and healthy today because of someone’s loved one.
Every day when I stand in front of the mirror and see my huge scar, I think of my donor and I honor him for the gift of life that he gave me.