Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Donate Life

April arrives tomorrow, and I wanted to alert you this is National Donate Life Month. Please consider organ and tissue donation after death for yourself or your family members. Please consider adding 'donor' to your driver's license if you have not already. PLEASE tell your family. Ultimately, it is their choice.

When my mom died (nearly 10 years ago) in a car accident, she was able to be a tissue donor. She died cardiac death, rather then brain death in a hospital, which is why she could not be an organ donor. My mom's driver's licence and will indicated she wanted to donate, but actually, it was my Dad's decision. Of course he did not hesitate and said 'yes' to the Red Cross when they called. He said take or use whatever you can.

All those years ago, when I learned of her death while at my own apartment in St. Paul, I was also alerted she would be a donor (which was no surprise). All those years ago, I thought the tissue recovery group was going to take my mom (whose body was at the St. Cloud Hospital) away before I could see her. I want all of YOU to know, if you choose to donate, it will not affect a families ability to see the body. It will also not change any wishes you have for your funeral.

My mom was able to help at least 48 individuals with her gift. Although I have never asked for details, this may have included skin, bone for many uses, various tissues and muscles, corneas, and heart valves. After my mom's death, the Red Cross informed my family about the donation process and updated me on my mom's gift. I became a volunteer speaker advocating donation for the Red Cross. I spoke to groups including driver's ed classes, nurses in hospitals, some sort of surgical technicians conference in Sioux Falls, SD, other donor families, and the Ramsey County and Hennepin County Medical Examiners offices.

After doing so many speaking gigs, I eventually applied for a job with the Red Cross Transplantation Services and got a position as a Transplantation Services Hospital Liaison. Basically, I was then paid to advocate donation and educate hospitals on the process. After less then a year with this national division of the RC, the division was sold to another larger and very reputable non-profit tissue bank. I went on to a new job, but continued to volunteer for the groups carrying out the tissue services in our area, until my own story became a bit tired from use!

BUT - I REMAIN a strong advocate of donation. For me, it helped bring some sort of positive element I could grasp to my mom's death. To this day, as I face new milestones in my own life, I think of the individuals who lives may have been enhanced or saved by my mom's gift, and their milestones.


1 comment:

MollyinMinn said...

This is a great post, Andrea. Thank you for sharing it.


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