Sunday, September 16, 2012

Are you an organ donor?

Recently my friend Natalie and her family went through an amazing experience when her father suddenly received the organ transplant he had desperately needed for some time. I asked her to share her story here, and information about how we can all give the gift of life through organ donation.


from Natalie:

In 2010 my father was diagnosed with NASH, a common and often "silent" liver disease, caused most of the time by a fatty liver. Because the cirrhosis was advanced and his liver was too damaged to regenerate itself, his only options were a strict maintenance program and a liver transplant. After he was diagnosed, I set out to learn as much as I could about his disease and transplant options. However, what I found out through research and throughout his entire battle with this disease, was that liver and kidney transplants are not easy to come by. Because of the shortage of organs, and the rapid degeneration of health with cirrhosis, a lot of people die waiting for a healthy organ.

My father’s health with cirrhosis diminished rapidly. Towards the end we had to help him do almost everything. Hospital visits became weekly, he would easily become confused and disoriented, and his kidneys started failing because they were working overtime to compensate for his liver. Even as my dad got more and more sick, he never stopped smiling. He remained extremely positive throughout his entire battle and fought even on the days I know he felt like giving up. I truly believe his positive outlook is what helped him survive.

Then miraculously and suddenly September 5th at 11:30pm we received an unexpected call from Mayo Clinic, saying they had found a liver that matched my dad perfectly. After a biopsy was performed and the liver was cleared, they called him in to prep for surgery. After just 5 hours, his surgeon came out and told us that the surgery went as well as they could have expected. My father was now ready to start the recovery process. It is only two weeks post surgery after that whirlwind of events, but so far he is doing amazing.

I know that without the incredible person who made the choice to donate their organs, my father would have never survived. We will always be grateful to the hero and their family for choosing to give my father the gift of life.


So this is where we can help. If you live in Arizona, Natalie is doing the 20-in-12 Challenge, and is aiming to sign up 20 people to become organ donors through Donate Life AZ, which is a a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization for the state of Arizona.  DNA saves and heals the lives of Arizonans through dedicated and passionate work to provide organs to save lives, tissue to heal lives and corneas to restore sight.

Facts from Donate Life AZ:
  • There are more than 112,000 men, women, and children in the U.S. waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. More than 21,00 of these individuals live in Arizona alone.
  • Every 11 minutes another name is added to the national waiting list, and each day 17 people die waiting for their organ transplant.
  • One organ donor can save eight lives, and one organ and tissue donor can save and heal up to 50 lives!
  • People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated. 
  • Organs and tissues that can be donated include: heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bone, and heart valves. 
To become a donor, simply email Natalie at Nataliedrobel@gmail.com and she can get you set up. And better yet, if you'd like to take the 20-in-12 Challenge yourself, you can do so at donatelifeaz.org or email heidi@dnaz.org for a full packet with the sign up sheets, pens, and other materials needed.

This is an AZ program, but all states have something similar, so check online to find one near you!

Thank you guys so much for reading. I really wanted to share Natalie's story here and spread awareness. Feel free to share a link to this post on your blog to continue to spread the word!

24 comments:

  1. This is a really emotional post. I've already decided years ago that I want to be a donor and I've been counting my days untill I became 18 to be able to donate blood which I've done twice already now. I don't think there's anything better than to be able to help people when you die (even though I formulate it a little harsh).

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a beautiful post! I'm so happy for Natalie's family; it's amazing what somebody else's generosity or forethought can do.

    I am a registered donor, as are most of my friends - we're not going to need those organs after we die, so why not let medical professionals make somebody's life a whole letter better by donating them? There has been talk over here of making organ donation an "opt out" thing, so you'd be registered to donate unless you specifically said no - I know it took me months to get round to filling in the forms, so I'd be all for making opting out the thing which takes a bit of effort, not opting in.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love this post, especially the part about Natalie's Dad's positivity and her focus on finding out as much as she could. In the UK there is also a shortage of donated organs and I keep meaning to sign up and forgetting. This post has inspired me to go online and sign up right away :-)

    http://katyclouds.typepad.com

    xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a wonderful post! It's amazing how a life can be saved all thanks to one person, who you will never know.

    I'm an organ donor, for every part of my body. To me, it seems so selfish to keep hold of organs that you will never again need when somebody is in such desperate need of them.

    Becky
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love this post, and I love that you're both spreading the word about organ donation. I'm registered as an organ donor, and this is something I'm very passionate about. My little brother is on the waiting list for a liver transplant. It is so hard to watch him get sicker and sicker...and to keep waiting. Hoping that a liver comes.

    Great post. Just started reading your blog. Love it.:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tori,
      Where do you live? If you ever need any extra information or just someone to talk to who's been through what you're going through, you can always email me. I would have loved to have been able to talk with someone who could relate to what I was feeling. I'll be thinking about your family. xx

      Delete
    2. Natalie,
      That would be so amazing. I don't really have anyone to talk to. I'm so glad your dad got a liver. The waiting part is so hard, and it's good to hear a success story. I live in Salt Lake. My brother is developmentally disabled, and so he has a hard time understanding what's happening to him. It makes it so hard. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for him.

      Delete
    3. Seriously, email me anytime @ the email Danielle shared above. It's really hard to stay positive when you feel so helpless, but it's necessary to get you through the hard days. <3

      Delete
  6. I was on the verge of kidney failure when I was 12, when I had surgery and spent a couple of weeks on a ward with transplant patients. It is a tough environment to be in, especially at that age, but you learn how truly wonderful the people are who decide to save other people's lives when their time has come. As a result, I am of course on the UK organ donor list, and would encourage everyone who would ever accept an organ to return the favour and offer their organs after they are gone.

    Love to everyone xo

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm glad I live in Austria - everybody is automatically a donor here, which I find a really good system.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love. Pediatric transplants used to be my passion in my career (especially liver transplants!!). It still shocks me that people don't donate!! I have seen many a child's life saved from the gracious donation of organs. Out of darkness comes light.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Amazing. I believe everyone should be an organ donor if they can! A simple life changing decision.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've been a proud organ donor since I was 18. I just can't see why anyone wouldn't want to be an organ donor. What I find interesting, too, is that (in California, at least, don't know about this for other states) when you become an organ donor, you have to fill out a form saying so with a regular class C license, but when you get your license to drive a motorcycle, you're automatically made an organ donor. At least, that's how it was when my brother and I got our licenses.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nice story. I've been a organ donor since 18 also. Thanks for sharing this happy story.

    ReplyDelete
  12. For British readers: registering with the NHS as an organ donor is super super easy and takes 5 seconds!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh wow... This is insane. I wish 17 people didn't have to die everyday :(

    Val
    http://valentinaduracinsky.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  14. In the UK our biggest pharmacy's club card is also a donor card, as some people do not have drivers licences. Everyone should be a donor!

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a wonderful story! In Saskatchewan (in Canada), where I'm from, everybody has a health card and when they send them out it includes an organ donor sticker and a card to sign. It reminds people to make that decision in advance and doesn't leave the decision up to the remaining family so much, and that way the ministry of health has an official record in advance. I think it's so important. My parents have also always made sure that my sister and I both knew they want to be organ donors so that when they pass on we already know their wishes. I think telling your family (especially those who will burdened with these decisions when you're gone) is a good way to make sure it happens and to help them think about these things.

    Best of luck to Natalie and her family!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I was strangely passionate about organ donation when I was in high school - It amazed me that such a progressive and wealthy country could be so okay with losing thousands every year simply because organ donation isn't common. In some European countries, you have to opt OUT of organ donation, rather than having to opt in. I think that's so much smarter! Imagine if everyone was automatically opted in (but could easily opt out) to organ donation? It would change our entire situation...

    Anyway sorry for the long ramble! Thank you for writing about this, it's something that should be spoken about more often.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This post had me tearing up. I've been on the other side with my father dying and us having to decide if we wanted to donate his organs or not. It was a really hard thing to be a part of even though we knew it would be helping others and it is what he would have wanted. His liver went on to save another man's life and it's comforting to know that and to read this story and see the impact such a decision can make.

    ReplyDelete
  18. A beautiful little girl at my preschool (nearly 4) had a liver transplant when she was a baby. She is so special to us. Not that we are supposed to have 'favourites', but you just can't help but feel extra love towards this little fighter. She still is on steroids and goes to hospital every week. We recently found out that it was her mother who was her liver donor. What an amazing family. It would be wonderful if we could talk more openly about organ donation. I hope everyone who can be one is a donor on their drivers license.

    ReplyDelete
  19. this is such a great post and an amazing way to spread the word about how important organ donation is! i donated my kidney 2 years ago to my god-brother... and the whole process is so fascinating to me!

    xx, kara

    ReplyDelete
  20. Organ donation is a wonderful thing. My mom received a cornea transplant when I was little, and it saved her vision. The cornea is something so small that you'd never think it would change someone's life, but someone's selfless donation changed the lives of my whole family! Great post- thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm not yet ready for organ donation but I'm willing to help and support this cause. Share this to my friends and hope they are willing to donate.

    ReplyDelete

 
Blogging tips