Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Ultimate Recycler

Today, I am honored to share this post written by my friend, Maureen Profeta. You can follow her journey on her blog, Parable of my Life.

When my son was twelve years old, he was in a fatal accident. After twenty-four hours of one extreme measure after another to save his life, the medical team liaison informed his father and I that he was brain dead. After explaining what that meant, she asked if we would be willing to consider organ donation. We decided that our little boy would have wanted that. He was a loving, giving child and we could think of no better way to honor the short but joyous life of our son than to consent to organ donation. While I can’t tell you who all received the gift of life from our decision, I do know that one of his cornea went to a grandmother in Ohio who is now able to watch her grandbabies grow up and his heart and lungs went to a little boy right here in Pennsylvania who loves to play sports, just like my son did.

Many Americans who need transplants cannot get them because organ donors are always in short supply. There are far more people in need of a transplant than there are people willing to donate an organ. At this moment, more than 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for an organ. Four thousand more people are added to the national waiting list each day. Everyone of them is in desperate need of a heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, lung, or other organ. More than 6,500 people a year – about 18 a day – die before that organ ever becomes available. By becoming an organ donor, one person can save up to eight lives and enhance the quality of life for many more.

What can one donor do?

One donor can:

• Donate kidneys to free two people from dialysis treatments needed to sustain life.
• Save the lives of patients awaiting heart, liver, lung or pancreas transplants.
• Give sight to two people through the donation of corneas.
• Donate bone to help repair injured joints or to help save an arm or leg threatened by cancer.
• Help burn victims heal more quickly through the donation of skin.
• Provide healthy heart valves for someone whose life is threatened by malfunctioning or diseased valves.

The bad news is that every 11 minutes one more person is added to the transplant waiting list. The good news is that someone may be receiving that long-awaited, much needed organ right now. Statistics can sometimes be overwhelming and difficult to comprehend. One way to understand their magnitude is to remember that every number is a person whose only hope for life is for someone to donate the organ they so desperately need. Each number represents a mom, dad, brother, sister or a child – someone who is important to someone else, maybe even you. What if it were your family member or friend on that list?

It's especially important to consider becoming an organ donor if you belong to an ethnic minority. Minorities including African-Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Hispanics are more likely than Caucasians to have certain chronic conditions that affect the kidney, heart, lung, pancreas and liver. Certain blood types are more prevalent in ethnic minority populations. Because matching blood type is necessary for transplants, the need for minority donor organs is especially high.

While a small number of organs come from healthy people (about 6,000 transplants from living donors are performed each year) most of the organs that are available come from deceased donors. To donate your organs after death, you can either register with your state's donor registry, or fill out and carry an organ donor card or designate your choice on your driver’s license when you get or renew it. To become a living donor, you can either work directly with your family member or friend's transplant team, or contact a transplant center in your area to find out who's in need of an organ.

Be the ultimate recycler….give life by becoming an Organ and Tissue Donor.

On a personal note (from Hana), for various reasons and concerns, I am not a registerd Organ and Tissue Donor. However, everyone in my family knows my explicit wishes to donate when I die. I just am uncomfortable with the medical profession having that knowledge ahead of time ... call me cynical. I guess I am. If you are not registered, but Maureen's story has moved you, make sure your family understands exactly what you want in the case of your death. And don't wait. Like Maureen shared, accidents happen ... every day.


  1. Thanks for sharing Maureen. It must be a comfort to know your son lives on in so many.

  2. Thanks for sharing this story. I've never understood why people WOULDN'T want to be an organ donor. I did it the moment I got my first driver's license and frequently tell my family to use every possible usable piece of my body to help others when I'm gone. However, I can definitely understand how hard it would be for a parent faced with unimaginable grief to make a decision like that...and hard impossibly hard it must be for a doctor to have to ask that parent in the moment of such grief. What a blessing Maureen and her husband have been to so many people, by making such a choice at such a hard time.


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