We wait for a lot of things in life, but within the organ/tissue donation community, nearly 100,000 people nationwide are waiting for life itself. It’s a hard concept to grasp, but even harder to empathize with individuals who experience this wait. Communicating with those waiting for a second chance at life pulls it all into perspective and makes you realize how truly crazy it is to get upset while waiting a few extra seconds at a red traffic light.
This past weekend, I received word that one of our college volunteers from Illinois Central College passed away, waiting for a lung transplant. I never had the opportunity to meet Brent in person, but it only took a few email exchanges to realize how great of a guy he was. Always upbeat, Brent was rushed to the hospital a few weeks ago after becoming very ill with a form of pneumonia. Our thoughts go out to Brent’s family and friends. No one should pass away waiting for life.
Like Brent, 4,700 other Illinois residents are in need of a transplant. Hannah Meacham, a freshman at Aurora University, was kind enough to submit an entry for our Illinois Donor Diaries that describes her experience with The Wait. Brent and Hannah remind us of the critical nature of this issue and our ability to take action in helping save lives by registering as a donor.
The critical shortage of organs for transplant and the need for tissue donation is one of the very few healthcare problems we have a way to solve. Together, as registered donors, we can stop the wait.
Just over a year ago, shortly before my eighteenth birthday, my life changed forever. I was working my dream summer job as a lifeguard at a local water park and getting ready to start my senior year of high school. I was starting the application process for college and celebrating my birthday. I should have been really happy. I wasn’t though, as I was getting sick all the time, fainting, and always tired. My supervisor sent me home after work one day, instructing me not to come back until I had seen a doctor. That’s when all the trouble started.
My family has a history of kidney disease and my aunt, dad and brother have all been affected my it. In the summer of 2007, kidney disease personally became a part of my life. After a long set of tests and procedures I found out that I have chronic kidney disease, which means that due to my kidneys being very small, they are only functioning at a combined rate of 50%. I will eventually need a kidney transplant and dialysis. My life has changed a lot because of my kidney disease. I frequently get sick and have missed a lot of school because of it. I have to regulate my diet and be careful to choose healthy practices to make sure that the rest of my body is stable. That is the first reason I am a organ donor… because someday someone could provide me with a kidney or alternatively, I may be able to help someone else out as a donor. My aunt has had a kidney transplant and is now celebrating 26 years after her transplant of healthy living.
The other reason I am a donor is because this past February my best friend’s dad was driving to work when the drunk driver of a car ran a stop sign and killed him. He was an organ donor and because his selfless act, someone else was able to keep living. Simply put, I am a donor because I realize the impact organ donation can have on someone’s life.