Being an organ donor was a no-brainer for me from the time I was old enough to decide. I remember the first time I was asked at the BMV if I wanted to be an organ donor and without hesitation or even thinking about it, I checked the box. After I die, my organs will do me no good and knowing that they could help give multiple people the chance at a better life, I am proud to be a donor.
I have posted numerous times about my brother-in-law who has juvenile diabetes. He was diagnosed at the age of 8 and has lived with the illness ever since. Over the course of the last couple of years, it has really taken a toll on his body. He lost some of his eyesight and his kidneys completely quit working. Juvenile diabetes is when your pancreas doesn't work. The pancreas is what produces insulin for your body so he has been living the past 17 years dependent on insulin injections. He has been doing dialysis for sometime now as well. Three times a week he faithfully goes to his appointments. At only 25 years old, he has been through so much that it is heart-wrenching. He missed out on so much of his childhood because of this illness that literally has destroyed his body, one part at a time. About a year and a half ago, he was placed on a transplant list. Unfortunately because he needed both a pancreas and a kidney, he could not use a live donor. His condition has really deteriorated even since Christmas. He had episodes that included seizures and his sugar bottoming out to life-threatening levels. This is my husband's only sibling and I can recall many times him telling me how afraid he was that his little brother wouldn't live to see his transplant date. We have prayed so many times but so much time had passed, it seemed like the day would never come.
On Saturday night, my husband was at work and I was getting the kids to bed when we got the call. Nathan had just received the call that they might have a match for him and he needed to get down to UC hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio asap. My in-laws hopped right in the car and took off to the hospital. They told us that they had to have tests run to make sure he was a match and his health was good enough for him to receive the organs so I didn't sleep a wink all night. I continuously checked my phone for updates and then I would send them on to my husband at work. About the time my husband was getting off work, we got the call. HE WAS A MATCH! My husband got home from work as quick as he could, we got the kids to my parents and we headed to Cincinnati. My brother in law was taken back around 10 am and after about four hours, we got the call from the OR that the pancreas transplant was complete and they were starting on the kidney. About four hours after that first call, we got the second call that the kidney was in and we would get to meet with the surgeon soon. About 45 minutes later, we were sitting in a room with the surgeon who had just spent over 8 hours giving my brother-in-law a life changing gift.
The first words out of the surgeons mouth was that everything went GREAT! The pancreas and kidney were both working, Nate came through surgery just fine and we would get to see him soon. I don't remember which family member asked the question about his diabetes but it was probably one of the most amazing things I have ever witness in my life. When asked what kind of diet Nathan would need to be on and how he would handle his diabetes going forward, the surgeon basically said that he would no longer need to regularly monitor his sugar because now, with a working pancreas, HIS DIABETES IS GONE! I had goosebumps all over my arms and when I reached over to grab my husband's hand, I saw huge tears welling up in his eyes and pouring down his cheeks. All of these years that he has suffered from this horrible disease and he is finally going to have the chance to live a normal life like you and I. When we finally got back to see him 2 hours later, he was awake and alert and although he was in pain, he looked great. He was showing my husband pictures on his cell phone of a model car he is building and he was in such high spirits.We left the hospital last night feeling so incredibly blessed. Blessed that someone was caring enough to donate their organs so that Nate could have a chance to finally live. My heart was so heavy knowing that another family somewhere lost a loved one but it was also overflowing with unspeakable joy knowing that they gave our family the most amazing gift.
We know there can be problems along the way. Last night a few hours after we all left, his blood pressure dropped and they discovered internal bleeding. They had to open him back up to fix the bleed and they had to give him blood. Today, however, my mother-in-law said he looked better than ever. He was texting on his cell phone and watching tv. We are SO thankful to so many people. The surgeons, the hospital, the nurses, the donor and the donors family but most of all I am thankful to God for keeping his hand on our loved one and bringing him through this. It all happened so fast that it still seems unreal but I know that my husband's family is more grateful than words could ever describe.
This month is organ donation month. If you haven't made the choice to be a donor yet, I beg you to search your heart. The choice you make could be a matter of life or death for many others. Imagine if it were your loved one who needed an organ. It could happen to anyone at anytime. Choose to give life.