Category Archives: organ donation

May I have your liver please?

A few weeks ago in the midst of a large conference filled with 7 thousand women who glowed with the energy around us, I ran into the wife of a dear friend and mentor who I had not seen or heard from in a while. We hugged effusively and I jokingly quipped that is was lucky for me he wasn’t able to attend and torture me in his usual fashion.

You see, he has the driest sense of humour and was not above telling people among other things with not a smile on that face, he was my” Parole Officer.” Lord, I can’t count the number of stunned faces we received until he laughed and they realized he was joking.  Suffice it to say, he helped shaped a few important decisions in my life over the years and holds a special place in my heart.

I was stunned when she ( wife) informed me that he needed a lung transplant and could I please check on him? In that instant, all the noise around me receded as we looked at each other, eyes brimming with tears and I could feel the gravity of what she had just imparted.  My friend developed a  lung disease seemingly out-of-thin-air as he was not a smoker and the doctors could find nothing environmental that he had been exposed to that would cause such a rapid deterioration of his once healthy lungs.

I called him and as usual, he began cracking jokes and making me scream over the phone, all while saying he was on oxygen a good portion of the day, he was in the beginning stages of being tested as a viable recipient for lungs so he could be placed on a waiting list and the things he learned as a direct result.  So in my naiveté, I said getting  lungs should not be  not be more than a few years from testing to transplant to which he replied, I would be surprised.

He went on to tell me, not enough people have signed up to be organ donors for one reason or another but the numbers were astonishingly low for African Americans. He said there were a myriad of reasons, the biggest one is the fear that if they ended up on life support in the Hospital, they would be allowed to die so that their organs could be harvested.  Say what now?  I listened intently because this is a man who is absolutely brilliant and would not make such a claim if there was no truth to it.  We got off the phone with a promise that we would stay in touch but that conversation haunted me.

In a talk with another dear friend a couple of weeks later, I mentioned this mutual friend of ours and told her what he said.  Not only did she agree wholeheartedly, she made family members who had organ donor on their license remove it for that very reason.  What she said was this; ” Think about how many young black males are shot daily in large cities and too often, I have heard stories from parents who felt their child was allowed to die instead of the most vigorous techniques to keep them alive being employed.  If they see “Organ donor” on their identification, it is worse because they know how many lives can be saved from the harvesting of one young person.”

I sat there stunned because I have ” Organ Donor” on my  license and I plan to keep it there so I can help to save lives if I can, but those two conversations, left me feeling  more than a little disturbed.  Then, I read an article today about a young 17 year old who died under mysterious circumstances in Atlanta Georgia and when his body was handed to the parents, his organs were replaced with tissue paper.  The explanation went from the ridiculous to the sublime but it brought right back to me, those last two conversations I had.

Here is what I believe despite all the things that are floating around and some of it may very well be true; we are in desperate need of more organ donors in this Country. desperately. So many people die on waiting lists each year, month, week, day and hour. If we know our organs will help to save a life, can you please help? Chances are, you are going to live a healthy existence but if Tragedy strikes and you are not able to be among us anymore, please give the gift of life. For those among us who are illegally harvesting organs, may the law deal with them as they are caught but I implore you, do not let the actions of a few, allow so many more to die.  One thing; since I am a woman of colour, when my “time” comes, be certain they have exhausted all the means to help me live then harvest the heck out of my organs. Take everything you find useful.  What am I going to do with it in the ground?

Give the gift that will keep on giving long after you leave here and help to save a life or two or three. Become an Organ Donor.

Enough said.

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