Photo Courtesy of Flickr/Ted Kappes
As storms surge, snow falls, and still, miraculously, groundhogs don’t see their shadows, we’d like to think that spring lies just around the corner. And it is just a few weeks away, which gives us hope that the seedlings popping up out of the earth will be sustained during sporadic periods of less horrendous weather leading up to March 20.
A time of renewal, rebirth, light jackets, and love. Spring is all good. And we’re feeling its approach this week at The Forum, because we got the news that our old friend Tim McCabe from the neighborhood got a kidney last week.
It has been a long time coming. Tim was in a health crisis more or less since 2004, when he got his first kidney transplant, donated by his lovely wife Christina. It took about five years – a long goodbye – for Tim’s body to fully reject the organ. In 2012, a second potential transplant fell through at the last minute, and Tim has been playing a very painful and exhausting waiting game, enduring full-time dialysis now for years.
More than 6,500 people die annually in that same holding pattern. That’s about 21 people a day. And every 12 minutes in the United States alone, another person is added to the organ donor list, amounting to more than 123,000 people in this country currently waiting for a kidney, liver, heart, or other organ.
Those organs come from donors living and dead. Some 6,000 transplants performed each year are with organs from living donors — who can survive and compensate for the loss of a whole kidney or part of a pancreas, intestine, liver, or lung. Of course, while our bodies are amazingly resistant, for the donor there are the usual risks of major surgery: bleeding, clotting, infections and allergies, and even damage to surrounding tissue and/or organs. The benefits, though — knowing that you can save someone’s life – are unquantifiable.
Some people are understandably squeamish about the concept, while others wouldn’t even consider becoming a donor in death. But, might we try to convince you to register?
First, one organ donor can save eight lives and improve the lives of more than 50 people. Few among us are able to accomplish such a feat while living, so shouldn’t we make ourselves useful ‘til the very end? Additionally, all major U.S. religions support it, so please don’t use God as an excuse. Lastly, you can still have a funeral – even an open casket – after your organs have been removed.
Of those of us at The Forum polled on the subject, one had signed the back of her very first driver’s license (acquired at age 16), as well as every subsequent one thereafter, to become an organ donor. Another person seemed to want to be a donor but hadn’t yet gotten around to registering. And another wasn’t very comfortable with the subject and hadn’t ever wanted to be one – until Tim McCabe’s story started to take hold, as stories like his tend to do. They grip us because we know him, or we know people like him, or we’ve even watched – as in the case of the woman who’d decided on organ donation at 16 – loved ones suffer through dialysis, feeling helpless and sad in so doing.
It turns out that merely signing the back of your license isn’t enough, as family members uninformed about your decision can contest or unwittingly decide against it. Registering with Donate Life America takes about two minutes to do at https://registerme.org. You can also sign up when you get or renew a driver’s license, via dmv.ny.gov or in person. When in doubt, let everyone know what your wishes are.
We send our love and prayers out to Tim McCabe and his family, that his wait for a less strained life, a life so richly deserved, has finally (like an endless grey winter) come to a close.