This is not a topic that I thought I'd be writing about on here, at least not yet, but I was on CysticLife this morning and someone posted how they recently registered to be an organ donor. It made me stop and think about if I checked that little box when I renewed my drivers license? I don't think I did.
In high school, I met someone named Joe who had Cystic Fibrosis. He wasn't always the healthiest, but he was one of the funniest, most positive people I have ever met. When I told my mom about him, she kind of looked at me funny, asked me what his last name was, and when I told her, she knew who he was! Apparently our parents had met when we were both little kids at some CF conference thing, but they didn't keep in touch. When I was in 8th grade my family moved to a new town, and Joe and I ended up going to the same high school. Crazy! Anyway, we became friends, even though we knew we weren't really supposed to be within three feet of each other (CF rule so that we don't spread each others germs/bacteria), we ignored it. He was in and out of the hospital a lot throughout high school and when we graduated, he didn't go off to college because of his health.
|Summer 2005 - we were 17 here|
We kept in touch when I went to college and in September of 2007, Joe had a double lung transplant. By the time he got his new lungs, one of his lungs was 75% unusable, the other was 50%, and he was on 8 liters of oxygen a day. This double lung transplant came at the perfect time in his life and gave him the chance to live again! Once he recovered, he was like a new person and he was able to walk his dog, Sophie, again (he loved that dog!)! The next fall, Joe went to college in Chicago for video game design. Unfortunately, him and I didn't keep in contact as much as I would have liked. In May of 2010, Joe developed some sort of cancer from his transplant, his body rejected his new lungs, and Joe passed away.
It came as a huge shock to me because I thought he had been doing so well and I didn't talk to him as much as we used to because we were both so busy. He was the first person I personally knew with CF (besides my distant cousins who I hardly ever saw) and it hit me really hard when he was gone. I couldn't believe that someone I went to high school with wasn't alive anymore, he was just too young. But because of his double lung transplant, he was able to get another two and a half years with his family and friends, and be able to go to college and live a wonderful life. If he wasn't given that second chance, he could have died right after graduating high school.
I'll admit, I didn't sign up to be an organ donor right then, because honestly I thought my organs couldn't be used because of my CF, but it's made me much more aware of organ donation. Obviously, they're not going to use my lungs, but that's not all people need. They use 'liver, heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, small intestines, corneas, bones, saphenous and femoral veins, heart valves and skin'. (http://www.donatelifeillinois.org/donatelife/faq.htm).
I know that this is a personal choice/opinion, but really, what are you going to do with you intestines or heart valves when you die?? You could give someone else the chance to live for another two and a half years, or many more years with their families, kids, spouses, friends, etc. by checking that little box when you renew your license, or registering through your state. Who knows, one day I could be in Joe's shoes where my lungs are barely functioning and I'm just waiting for the right set of lungs to come around to extend my life. I understand that it takes a person to die to donate their organs, and that's not always pleasant to think about, but I feel like it's such an amazing last gift to give someone so that they can live. I am proud to say that I am now officially an organ donor and that I really hope I can impact someone's life when that days comes when my life is over.
Are you an organ donor??
"Congratulations on your decision to help save lives!" - from the Donate Life website after I registered today! :-)