It has been an incredibly long few days. I feel selfish saying that, since it wasn't my husband that died, but my sister's. I don't know how she has made it through the last week. She is so incredibly strong. I think I would be a blob on the floor--waiting for others to carry me through the days. She, instead, is carrying others.
The funeral services for my brother-in-law Dan have concluded now. Our family will always carry a certain sadness at losing him, but there is also a certain peace at knowing it is not a permanent separation.
One of the things that that I learned the last several days was a bit of what it is like to be on the other side of organ donation.
My husband was the recipient of a kidney 21 months ago. We refer to "her" as "Okie." Okie has been a good and strong kidney for my husband. I cannot adequately express the freedom we feel (and appreciate) each day after enduring almost 3 years of dialysis. 21 months in, we are still seeing the nephrologist once monthly to check levels, but there is no comparison to the rigors of dialysis.
Because of a young doctor (and inquisitive family members who knew how to use google) we happen to know the circumstances surrounding the death of the person who donated a kidney to Eric. I remember feeling so elated when we got "the call." The family and I were celebrating that evening in the hospital room before Eric's surgery the next morning. Eric, was less than celebratory. As we prayed for the surgery to go well, Eric (with much conviction) asked us to please remember the family of the person who had donated the kidney. He felt a huge burden on his heart for them.
The person that donated a kidney to Eric died in a somewhat similar way to our brother-in-law. It was a shocking and unexpected thing for the family members. It was a head injury. The person was kept alive through machines while organs were donated to others.
What we learned through Dan's death is a bit about what it is like for those that donate their organs. It *IS* a sacrifice. Our family members had to be in that horrible place of limbo (between Dan's life and death) for longer than they would have had to, had my sister not decided to donate his organs. Calls have to be made. At least 8 people got "the call" that they have been waiting and hoping and dreaming of--a donor match. All of those people have to get to the hospital. Blood tests have to be done, confirming match between donor and recipient. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that we never realized when we were the recipient of the gift.
Please, consider donating your organs. Make it KNOWN to your family members that when you pass, those are your wishes. [They will ultimately have to make that decision, and it will be easier for them if they know where you stood.] Know that your sacrifice will make a difference in many lives. Maybe it's a husband--and father to four, like my Eric. Maybe it's new sight to a person who needs a cornea transplant. Maybe it's new skin for someone who has had a mastectomy. Maybe, it's a beating heart to someone who would otherwise pass away. Making the choice to DONATE LIFE may mean that it takes just a bit longer for you to join Jesus, but I have a feeling He would give His blessing and will wait up a bit longer for your arrival.
P.S. We found out my brother-in-law was actually in the process to see if he could be Eric's living donor for the kidney. We just happened to have gotten "the call" before he was finished with the matching process. Don't forget that living donation is also a MUCH needed thing! People who receive living donor organs have a much higher success and longevity rate.