Posted by: Terri Johnston Fraracci | April 9, 2016

April is Donate Life Month: Getting to the heart of the Matter

April is Donate Life Month. April 5, 2016 is Organ Donation Registration Day. “113,780 people are waiting for an organ. 18 people will die each day waiting for an organ. 1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives.” – These and other eye-opening statistics can be found on the organdonor.gov website, along with personal stories from donors and recipients, how you can become a donor, and/or help in some other way.

The following is my own personal story as the proud mother of a donor:

My then 22-year-old son was fatally injured in a car accident. But before he left this earth he saved four other lives through organ donation – his choice. At his tender age he already knew that he wanted to be a donor. I can only imagine how many lives were changed the day his recipients began their new lives. I don’t have to imagine the results of one of them, for the wonderful young man whose chest holds my son’s beating heart today generously shares his life with me.

My son’s heart recipient’s family contacted me first to thank me for the gift that saved their son and brother’s life. He was near death in November 2006, rapidly losing ground, trying to hang on, as he waited for a healthy heart. Just when it looked as if he wouldn’t make it, they got the call. A young man was giving him his heart. I wished him yet another happy birthday he didn’t think he would see today. Nearly ten years later he’s healthy, he’s happy, he’s still here.

organ donation

David and me on his wedding day.

David and Mama

As soon as he was well enough, he contacted me, too. (Contact initially goes through a third party to protect the rights to both donor family and recipient should either choose to remain anonymous.) He lets me know how he is, what he is up to, the results of his yearly appointments (fantastic), how he is embracing the life he wasn’t sure he would have as each new year passes. He never fails to let me know how grateful he is. Inspired by the gift from my son to his, his father also became a donor. When he passed away four years ago he also gave the gift of life. Even more lives were changed for the better.

It has been nearly ten years since David went Home. I miss him every day. But I am so proud of him. And knowing what he gave, getting to be a part of the life of the recipient of his gift, knowing his heart is still beating, still here, is a priceless gift; a gift that came out of a time that I couldn’t ever imagine anything good coming from. There are no adequate words to describe the loving gift his recipient gave to me when he reached out to me, and continues to give me as he shares his life with me.

I share my personal story with you because I’m not sure anyone who hasn’t been a part of donation understands the ripple effect created when a donor commits love in action. I want you to know that there is so much more to being a donor than saving a life. Countless lives receive a part of the gift of life.

If you are interested in learning more or becoming a donor, please consult the website above for more information. If you are a Californian or live in the Sacramento area you can also find information here.

April is Donate Life Month. April 5th is Organ Donation Registration Day. Take a moment to consider the opportunity you have to save the lives of prospective recipients, change the lives of those who love them, and still others through the amazing life chain donation creates. I can only imagine how many lives you could change for the better, but I don’t have to imagine that you will. I already know.

*Article originally written in April 5, 2012. Edited and published here April 9, 2016

 

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