The Importance of Celebrating National Donor Day
I didn’t know how impactful organ donation was until it personally affected my life. I first learned the details of it through my evaluation for a double lung transplant. Since that surgery four years ago, I’ve frequently witnessed the impact the process has on both the recipient and the donors’ families.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that National Donor Day coincides with Valentine’s Day every year. It honors our organ and tissue donors, and organ donation is one of the deepest illustrations of love.
These donations have taught me so much about this selfless love. Every day I’m in awe of the gift my donor gave me. Each new breath is a reminder of my donor’s decision to say yes to the process. It’s been radical to receive that act of love from a stranger.
Since going through my surgery, I have immersed myself in the transplant community. I’m friends with several organ or tissue recipients, loved ones who have walked through transplant with them, and those who are on the waiting list. I’m also close with transplant nurses, doctors, and organ procurement teams. It’s opened my eyes to how intricate the transplant process is, and I’ve become friends with many people I would otherwise have never met.
I’ve also volunteered for several informational events with the “donate life” crew in New England. I’ve loved connecting with people, sharing my story, and helping others sign up to be organ donors. My personal connection to donation inspires others to say yes to it.
People have said that donation never crossed their minds because they or someone they love hasn’t been personally affected. A huge reason why I share my transplant story is to spread accurate information, create awareness of the dire need, and connect with others before organ donation personally affects them.
Just after my transplant, I attended a donor dedication ceremony at my home hospital, which bought a beautiful piece of art in the shape of a tree. The donor families were given the choice to have their family member’s name engraved on a leaf. It made the organ donation process that much more real to see the donor families and hear their stories. I’m so thankful they had a special dedication in the donors’ honor.
When I attended the Transplant Games of America, the donor tribute ceremony wrecked me. Pictures were shared of hundreds of precious faces of organ and tissue donors. I thought of the loved ones who were devastated and still grieve. It’s powerful how redemptive it is for the donors to live on through those of us who are blessed with their organs or tissues. The donor families I met validated this for me.
At the games, I met several donor families. I made friends with them, listened to their personal stories of organ donation, and saw pictures of their loved ones who had donated. It was priceless to watch their faces beam with pride in how their loved ones saved the lives of so many people. I’m in awe of their ability to celebrate the gift their loved ones gave, despite the pain of losing them. Their strength is inspiring.
These are just a few of the several experiences that have touched my life because of my own donor. The world of organ donation carries grief, celebration, and everything in between. I’m so grateful that my donor’s story is intertwined with mine. After all, my donor is the reason I’m able to live on and write this.
Thank you to my donor and to all of the donors who have saved my friends’ lives. You’re forever our heroes.
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