In which I am way too excited about internal organs.

One of my favorite aunts, someone who has been like a second mom to me, got the phone call of a lifetime yesterday. Several years ago, Auntie Cheryl developed COPD – Chronic Obstruction Pulmonary Disease, a lung disease which meant she was constantly winded, coughing, and gasping for breath. See declined rather quickly – or maybe it just seemed that way to us. She went from needing occasional oxygen, say, after walking even from the car into the house, to needing it more frequently, to constantly, and from there to the point where doctors advised her that she needed a lung transplant. Her health declined to the point where she was placed at the top of the lung transplant list for all of Massachusetts. She’s been there for several years.

Years. She’s been the number one candidate for years.

I can tell you, even from my somewhat outsider perspective (being all the way down here in Texas, not really on the front line) that watching a loved one’s health deteriorate right in front of your eyes because there aren’t enough organ donors is something no one should have to do. Seeing from visit to visit how much worse Auntie Cheryl seemed was bad; watching her advocate for organ donation squeezed my heart even harder. My aunt is young – still in her 50s – she should be advocating for grandbabies, not life-saving measures. My uncle should have retired to spend more time vacationing, not to take better care of his wife. (Although really, that’s a pretty good reason. We should all have partners in our lives whose sole focus is to make sure we’re okay. Ahem.)

Auntie Cheryl had just posted to her blog not long ago that she had been advised to start counseling to help her adjust to the fact that new lungs might not arrive in time. That was hard to hear.

And then yesterday I got a text from my brother. Auntie Cheryl had shiny new lungs waiting for her. She was going in for her transplant surgery. I cannot tell you how spazzy I was all of yesterday! Everyone in my office heard. So many people who didn’t even know my aunt and uncle and cousins sent up prayers and happy thoughts. I couldn’t concentrate on any one thing until everyone called and texted last night to say that my aunt had made it through surgery without any hiccups.

My aunt has shiny new lungs!!!

I am so grateful. I spent so much time yesterday thinking about all of the time we spent with Auntie Cheryl when we were young. All of the games I play with the girls that I learned from when my mom and Auntie Cheryl played them with us. And I thought about the family of the organ donor; how incredibly difficult these days must be for them. I offered up so many prayers and thank-yous. What a gift.

Please, please consider being that gift for someone else. A gift of life, of time, of more happy memories for a recipient and their family. If you want to learn more about how to become an organ donor, you can visit this site. Thank you for even thinking about the idea. And thank you to everyone who let me spaz yesterday and to everyone who sent out thoughts of health and happiness.

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2 Responses to “In which I am way too excited about internal organs.”

  1. Kathy Says:

    I am so happy for your aunt and the rest of the family. What an incredible gift. Now, I will double check my organ donor status one more time just to be sure I am listed like I should be.

  2. John Says:

    My friend Pam, Cheryl’s sister-in-law, just posted a link to this blog post on FB. I’ve been an organ donor from my very first license in 1979. My mother donated her body to education, and my brother donated his organs. It’s a lovely thing to do, to help someone’s life.

    “Shiny new lungs.” Deep, wonderful breaths and best of health to your aunt.

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