National Donate Life Month delivers a message of hope
Looking at the manifestations of emotions prompted by organ transplants
Perhaps the most pertinent word to describe National Donate Life Month in April is “hope.” People waiting on the transplant list, their loved ones, medical professionals, and donor families all experience it to different degrees. Each brings a unique voice to the word as it relates to organ donation.
I was born with cystic fibrosis. My lung disease was aggressive and left me constantly congested. After my health plummeted, I went into respiratory failure and was listed for a double-lung transplant. Five months later, I received the gift of new lungs and have been breathing strongly ever since.
Now, five years later, I’m able to reflect on the different perspectives of those who are affected by the unique, life-changing process that is transplantation.
Faith and optimism
My faith in God is what got me through the transplant waiting period. It kept me going when the horizon of my health appeared dark. It carried me when I felt like I couldn’t take another step. With each setback, determination would get me back on the exercise bike to work my way to being strong again. As my lung function declined, my faith lifted my spirits, which allowed me to continue while I waited for new lungs.
My faith is now stronger than ever. Living life with new lungs brings a whole new meaning to having hope for the future. I’m able to dream, plan, and do things I’ve never been able to do. Most of the time, I can focus on other things besides my health. And I’m able to be more present in my life rather than hypervigilant due to a cycle of sickness.
Since joining the transplant community, I’ve noticed how these folks are filled with optimism throughout the transplant process. Those on the waiting list anticipate that their names will be called next for a lifesaving surgery to replace failing organs with healthy ones. They desire a better future. And recipients of organs get to experience a completely different life filled with giant dreams, purpose, and endless gratitude.
The loved ones of transplant recipients have a different kind of hope. They don’t see a polished version of being sick, but rather the blood, sweat, and tears we patients endure as we press on. As our loved ones see us fight to live, they hope that we may live longer than what science has told us. They cling to the belief that our lives will be saved by the miracle of organ donation.
Medical professionals are hopeful, too, as they support both sides of the transplant story. They take care of patients on the transplant list and wait with expectation for new organs to become available. Medical teams provide encouragement to organ recipient families, as they’ve seen several families who’ve gone through the same process. They also provide consolation to donor families during the process of organ donation and care for the donors before their organs are passed on to someone else.
I’ve met donor families, and there’s a common theme of hope on a radically different level. Donor families experience the unthinkable — the tragic loss of a loved one. Donor families are often carried by the reassurance that their loved ones’ legacies will live on in the strangers’ lives they save. Many believe that despite their grief, something good can come out of their heartache.
Hope lives in each of us. As we plant these seeds in the hearts of those around us, we get to see human connections blossom as the miracle of organ donation continues.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.
Sounds like Lara is a very strong woman that will never stop going 100 percent forward. I applaud her