June 2, 1995. That was the day that my stepdad was reborn and began a new life. He had had a heart attack with no symptoms of chest pain. When he developed shortness of breath so severe he couldn't breathe, he finally went to the hospital where he was misdiagnosed with pneumonia. By the time the next morning arrived and another doctor ran an EKG, his heart only had 10% function left because so much of it had been damaged and not treated. He was flown to a trauma hospital 40 minutes away, where he died and was brought back twice by the wonderful team of doctors and nurses there. The next day he was flown again to another hospital 2 hours away where they do a lot of heart transplants in our state. They had to put a balloon pump into his heart to pump it for him because his heart was too damaged to work on its own.
And there he waited 100 days for the transplant. He was VERY lucky it was only 100 days.
Most people don't realize that if you donate your organs you can help up to 25 people. One person can help save or better the lives of 25 other people. Isn't that wonderful? Here are some other facts:
- Every 13 minutes, a new person is added to the national waiting list for an organ transplant.
- On average, 18 people die every day while waiting for an organ transplant.
- Last year, 5,000 people died while on the national waiting list for an organ transplant. Three-hundred of those people were from my state.
Without a family's heartbreak of losing their mother, my siblings and I would have lost our father, without a doubt; it was just a matter of days. That mother died in a tragic car accident, and because of her generosity and her family sticking by her wishes, our dad received a heart transplant and was given a second chance at life.
That is SUCH a special gift to give, people--you just have no idea. I cannot express to you what it was like to look at my stepdad and realize what a walking miracle he was, that he was alive because someone else had died, that he was alive because her heart was beating inside his chest. It was heartbreaking and elating all at the same time. And so amazing.
If you're not already an organ donor in your state, go sign up and become one now. If your state requires your family's permission even when you've marked it on your driver's license, tell your family your wishes! Some families cannot bear to donate the organs even if the person who passed marked it on their driver's license. You have to talk to your family and tell them what you want. If you wait until it's too late, it will be too late.