Life is hard and sometimes things happen that completely turn your world upside down. When it seems that your very being is crushed and you find yourself asking, "why?" While there are no real, definitive answers to that question, it is during the hardest of times, you discover how resilient you are.
April is National Donate Life Month and spreading awareness about Organ, Eye and Tissue donation is my passion. I would like to take a moment to share my family's story.
The year was 1996. My daughter was just 3 years old when a virus attacked her vision. Within two months, she was completely blind in her right eye and her vision was compromised in her left eye due to strain. Numerous trips to doctors, emergency rooms and specialists could not diagnose the problem.
Eventually we were referred to Barnes Children's Hospital in St. Louis, MO. After many tests, we were told that my daughter would need a cornea transplant. At the time, she was the youngest child to have undergone a cornea transplant at Barnes. We were placed on the donor waiting list and our journey was about to begin.
Friday, August 23, we received the call that a donor had been found. We were to be in St. Louis the following Monday to undergo the transplant, as there was only a 7 day period for the transplant to happen.
As a mom, I was devastated to learn that my daughter would have to endure this. Yet, in the midst of heartbreak and trial, I quickly learned how fortunate we were. Our daughter’s transplant was not considered life endangering, as were some of the transplants other children were receiving that day. Anxious parents filled the waiting area for news about their little ones; the effects of stress were evident.
The wait seemed like an eternity and thankfully everything went great; however, I was not prepared to see my baby girl in recovery. There she was, so tiny, so fragile, her eye covered with a patch and her arms placed inside braces to prevent her from touching her eye. In addition, IV’s, monitors and other equipment was hooked up to her. We recognized that the long road to recovery was about to begin.
Typically a cornea transplant lasts between 5-8 years. We were originally told that the hope was that she might be able to tell a cat from a dog. However, she has surpassed all statistics. She is now 26 years old, a Doctoral Candidate in Music Arts (Flute) at the University of Kentucky, reads, composes and transcribes music, has 20/40 vision and bright future in sight!
Our donor, or as we say, "Our Hero" was only 18 years old; yet he and his family demonstrated the ultimate act of love. He gave everything he had to someone he had never met so that others might have life or an enhanced life.
According to Donatelife.net, "114,000 people are waiting for a life saving transplant, more than 8,000 people die each year waiting for a transplant and every ten minutes a new name is added to the wait list? One donor can save 8 lives, restore sight to two people and heal the lives of 75 people."
You can leave a legacy of Life. Simply register today to be organ, eye and tissue donor. It's as easy as one click. Visit donatelife.net or click HERE