Monday, November 8, 2010
Contact from the Donor Family
Chris and I had just come home from seeing “Nowhere Boy” (the story of John Lennon as a teenager), at the Broadway Cinemas in downtown Salt Lake City. It was an awesome film, but very emotional. We both cried while watching it, and were ready to unwind and eat some dinner at home.
When we pulled into the garage, Chris took some grocery bags into the house. I walked to the mailbox and grabbed the pile of letters and advertisements inside. As I flipped through the mail, I noticed a large white envelope from IMC hospital. I thought I knew what it was...
You see, the last time I saw Dr. Cline, I forgot to bring my health insurance card with me. He said they would bill my health insurance anyway, but if it didn’t go through they told me to let them know so they could fix it.
I thought that’s what the envelope contained.
I walked to the recycle bin on the side of our house and dumped the junk mail inside. Then, I walked back towards the garage and tore open the white packet.
The first thing I saw was a pastel greeting card envelope. “What..?” I thought to myself and stopped walking. The flap was not sealed. I slid out a greeting card inside which turned out to be a really nice “Get Well” card signed from “A woman, A man, & Family.” (The names were written, but I will leave them out of the blog to respect the family.) Tucked inside of the card was a plain white piece of paper folded up.
I opened the piece of paper and read a hand-written letter from a woman I have never met. As soon as I read the first sentence, I knew who it was from and was immediately overwhelmed.
She wrote about her son, his interests, his job, how he passed away, and how happy his entire family was that he was able to help me. She also wrote his name. All of this made me visualize my donor as a real person with a great life and an amazing, loving family. I was stunned to learn how young my donor was. He was barely an adult.
Chris walked outside and saw me standing in the driveway reading the letter. She walked over to me and asked what I was reading. Then she saw my eyes and asked what was wrong. I handed her the letter and burst into tears. We hugged and both cried really hard.
I want to share an excerpt from the letter because I feel it emphasizes the importance of communicating your desire to be an organ donor with your family:
“The day before he died, we had a conversation about organ donation. That’s how we came to do this. He had told me.”
I spent a very long time the next day writing a response to the donor family. I re-wrote many paragraphs, changed things around, took things out, added things in, until it finally was complete. I am taking it to the IMC transplant center today after work so they can forward it to the family on my behalf.
Last names are not included, nor are personal addresses or contact details of any kind. I included the URL of this blog in case the family wants to read about my experience, or befriend me on Facebook. For me, it would be awesome to be in direct contact with my donor's family, but I will leave that decision to them.
I am just grateful that the mother took the time to write to me, and to send me an amazing card. It means a lot and I will never forget her son and her family.
They have changed my life, and now that I know a little about the donor and his family, they have change my entire perspective on the transplant.