Give the Gift of Life This Christmas

I came across this post on one of my social networks, and I decided that along with making sure I'm registered for organ and tissue donation, I would cross-post this message so that other people might be inspired.  This is not my personal story but I think its so well written it should be posted as is:

Some of you reading this may know some or all of this story but for the many that don’t, please indulge me while I tell you my story and the reason for this post. I apologize now for the length of this but I implore you to read this from start to finish.

This past summer, I learned that the father of a friend of mine was suffering from a disease that had destroyed his liver and would kill him if he did not receive a liver transplant. Several family members had undergone testing to see if they qualified, however none were a match. Only around 20% of people wanting to donate their liver to a specific person qualify to do so. I decided to see if I could help and downloaded the application form.

I filled out the form and faxed it in on a Monday morning. By that afternoon, I had received a phone call from the transplant team asking whether I could make it down to Toronto General Hospital for the first round of tests that Thursday. I underwent a variety of tests over the next week and it was determined that I was a biological match. The application process typically takes over a month but the patient was in very rough shape so they accelerated the process.

16 days after sending in my application, I was laying in preop getting jabbed with the first of many IV’s. When I awoke I had 9 IV bags dripping through 5 different IV’s and a carotid catheter that went from my neck down to my heart. I had an NG tube through my nose into my stomach, nasal oxygen, 12 lead heart monitor, a pulse oximeter on my finger and a catheter. The transplant surgery went well and they took nearly 80% of my liver to implant in the patient that Wednesday morning.

Unfortunately, his condition and the infection had progressed to the point where the transplant came too late and he succumbed to his disease that Friday.

I’m a firefighter. I’ve lost patients before and sometimes in much more dramatic fashion. I’ve had children die in my arms. I wasn’t prepared for how losing this battle would make me feel. I was trying to go through my own recovery at home yet was haunted by how I felt I had let his family down. 4 months later, it still bothers me. Yet I would do it all over again. I gave him a chance at life. The whole process, even though it was unsuccessful, was an incredible experience that I will never forget and has bonded me with the recipient and his family in a way that is indescribable. To be part of something like this was incredible and one of the proudest achievements of my life. I can only imagine how it must feel had it been successful.

This is what brings me to the point of writing this. He did not have to die. He shouldn’t have had to wait for a living donor. If he had received a transplant earlier from someone who was recently deceased, he would have lived a long and full life. I shouldn’t have had to go through this. The physical and emotional anguish were unnecessary. Unfortunately, fewer than 14% of people living in the GTA have signed their donor cards or registered to donate their organs in the event of their own untimely death. 14%. Canada is supposed to be a country of givers yet we possess one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the entire world.

That is why I am here telling you my story. To get you to register yourselves for organ donation. The link is right here gift of life It only takes a few moments but it can save someone’s life. Wouldn’t you want that opportunity for your spouse, your parent, your child? Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in. Someone signing a document and talking with their family can save your loved one. Just as important as registering, however, is taking the time to discuss your decision with your loved ones. Let them know your wishes as the decision is ultimately theirs at the time of your death whether to donate.

I am not here looking for a bunch of “atta boys” or pats on the back. I don’t need a ton of friend requests from people I don’t know. I know I was part of something pretty fucking amazing. I don’t expect anyone to go through the process of becoming a live donor. There are nearly 3000 people registered in this group. What I do want to see is 3000 people saying “I did it. I registered” I know there will be some that can’t for religious reasons. I understand that. This isn’t the place for debate about the health care system or politics or religion surrounding this issue. If you have a question, feel free to post it or PM me privately.

What I want to see is page after page of people saying they have registered. Perhaps the odd person who has decided to become a live donor. It’s simple people. By registering today, you can save lives tomorrow. Is there anything better than that? Do it now. Take a few minutes out of your life and register. You know it’s the right thing to do so just do it.

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