08 June 2009

8 years ago today=Gift of Sight

8 years ago today (June 8, 2001) , my husband of 33 years died as a result of his 3rd heart attack. He had his first one at the age of 37, his second one in early 1993, which resulted in a quadruple bypass, and his final heart attack in his sleep in 2001.

By the time the ambulance arrived, I knew it was to late for help. At the hospital, the ER staff still gave their best efforts. When it was decided there was nothing else that could be done, I was approached by a person who was very gentle and caring. She asked me if I had considered donations or transplants. This is something my husband and I had never talked about but it seemed like the right thing to do.

As Tom had been without oxygen for a long period of time, his organs couldn't be used. I was asked about donating the long bones but this seemed too invasive. I was asked about cornea donation. This seemed so perfect as Tom had been a professional photographer for 30+ years and his eyes were his life. Even tho he had worn glasses from an early age, his cornea would give sight to others.

A few weeks after the cornea transplant, I received a beautiful letter from the Midwest Eye-Banks saying that because of the donation, a woman in my hometown now had sight. I called them to thank them for keeping the donation in my area. They said that as she was next on list, she was the recipient.

Over the years, in doing public speaking for Gift of Life (MI), I've found many recipients want to contact the donor family to thank them. Many donor families don't want this as the donation is bitter sweet.

I URGE you to check into organ, tissue and cornea donation in your state and find out if this is something you wish to do. Talk with your family; let them know your wishes.