Thursday, January 3, 2013

Take My Heart--Please

GradPortraitsm.jpg (50462 bytes)I've been thinking about David tonight.
We watched a show called Mobbed, which I had never heard of and which I don't see myself ever watching again, but I had been on Twitter tonight and my twitter feed was flooded with requests from Howie Mandel (the host) to watch it, and after it started on the East coast, from people who were raving about it.

The hype worked.  I decided to find out what it was all about.

It's a reality show and I guess that they choose someone who wants to honor someone--or surprise someone--and build an hour program around making that into an extravaganze.  I saw that Part 2 tonight was a girl who had a crush on someone at work and wanted to let him know she was falling in love with him.  I think a proposal might have been involved and from the look on his face, it might have gone badly, but we only watched the first hour.

The first subject was a 75 year old fire chief whose daughter wanted to let him know how much he was loved and to show him how many lives he had changed throughout his lifetime.  The tribute was prompted by her sister's death in an auto accident many years ago and the parents' decision to donate her organs (at the end of the show they met the daughters of an organ recipient who had lived an extra 17 years due to the kidneys she had been given and I think the last one was the heart recipient, though I couldn't understand what she said, but she did tap her chest and it seems likely that she was the heart recipient. The girl had been given the heart as a baby and was now an adult. 

Before that introduction there were practical jokes and lots of music and dancing with everybody waving their arms in the air in the manner of a last act finale.  It was all very touching and I was sobbing by the end of it.

Which is why I was thinking about David.

When David decided to run his car (or, more accurately, Jeri's car) into a light post in front of our old meat market in San Francisco, Walt and I were in New York, where we had gone for a Jose Carreras concert with our friend Barbara.   The other kids were at "the happiest place on earth," Disneyland, following a concert the night before, where after a phone call to security, the whole band was rounded up within half an hour (they were wearing Lawsuit t-shirts).

Walt and I were at a party at our friend Ron's apartment.  He was going to introduce us to a bunch of CompuServe friends I'd never met and when "the" phone call came, we were waiting for the first guests to arrive.  As the guests started arriving, Walt and I were in the back room talking to Ned and my mother, at David's bedside.

The kids flew home immediately and were with David in the hospital when he died.  We got the first plane out of New York, but not until 6 a.m. the next morning.  It was a long night in our hotel room, where none of us could sleep.

But the most surreal thing of all was talking to a disembodied voice of the "transplant coordinator" and giving her permission to remove our youngest child's organs so that some other person could use them.

There was never any question about whether we wanted to do that or not.  It has always been comforting, in the past 15+ years to think that perhas still somewhere in the world bits and pieces of David are still functioning and keeping someone else alive.

When my sister was murdered in 1971 it was before the age of transplants.  The only part of a person that could be used were the eyes and my father was LIVID at the thought of anybody cutting up "his" daughter.  My mother regretted that for years afterwards, thinking of two people whose sight might have been restored using Karen's corneas.

We heard from one of the transplant recipients.  I think it was whoever got one of David's kidneys.  I don't remember anything about that person now, except I think it was a middle-aged man.  I always wondered about the heart recipient. 

The transplant team promised us annual updates on how the organs were doing, but after the first year, we never heard from them again.  But that was OK.   The organs weren't David's any more and maybe I'm happier thinking that his heart still beats in the body of someone else, whether it does or not.

As I said, I won't be watching Mobbed again and I'm not entirely certain that the honoree was all that happy with being the center of attention tonight, but I am glad I watched it and could think back on donating David's organs and the comfort that act brought us.

We wanted to donate Paul's organs, too, but since the circumstances surrounding his death meant he had to be a "coroner case," it wasn't possible, though we signed a release to donate whatever could be used (skin cells, and other things for research).

If you have never seriously considered organ donation, whether for yourself or for your loved ones, I really recommend that you take some time to think about it, talk with your loved ones, and let your wishes be known to those who will take care of you after you die.


Harriet said...

I carried around written permission to donate my organs for years. Eventually it was on my driver's license.

However, as a cancer survivor, I am no longer eligible. Several of us discussed it with the nurses during a chemotherapy session. I'm too old to donate blood anyway, but I can't do that either.

Bev Sykes said...

when are you "too old" to donate blood?

Mary Z said...

John's 78 now and he still donates blood. He had to stop for 5 years after his radiation for prostate cancer, but is now donating again.

We've both let the girls know that we're organ donors. I've told them I want to donate whatever might be usable for transplant or research. I didn't know about the cancer thing, but I didn't have chemo, so maybe that's not a factor.

phonelady said...

I did not realize your sister was murdered did they ever find out who killed her ? my aunt was also murdered in Miami in a hotel and they never found out who did it . My family did not donate organs either and my mother always said it was against God to donate . She still feels this way according to some family memebers . I think that is wonderful that some people can meet their recipients of the organs that were donated .