There was a heartwarming story (no pun intended) a couple of weeks ago in the wedding section of The New York Times. Ten years earlier, the bride had lost her father due to a fatal mugging (a sixteen year old shot him in the head). The family of the deceased made the decision for organ donation. The recipient, a gentleman close to the deceased father's age sent a note of gratitude to the family. Over the years there was shared correspondence.
When the wedding plans were made, there was discussion over who would walk the bride down the aisle. At the fiances suggestion, the bride asked the heart recipient. So, the gentleman who received the bride's father's heart walked her down the aisle. As the bride says a piece of her dad was with her.
What a beautiful story and a generous gesture on both family parts; for the one who gave the heart away through organ donation and the other who returned it through an intimate gesture.
What has touched me is the thought of our inter-connectedness with one another. In this story there is an actual tangible connection and reminds us that we are connected to one another in some way. With all our modern medicine and research there are still some things that cannot be duplicated and can only be shared. Organ donation, organ transplantation and even blood, platelets and bone marrow donation are still human based. For some it is an easy, relatively non-invasive thing to do and for others a final gesture of generosity. It is a spectrum of personal and sacrificial sharing. And it is necessary.
I just cannot think of more poignant examples of why we need one another than to see a row of business suits sitting in chairs being connected to tubing for a corporate blood drive. Or the surgical blue hat askew on the head of a "stranger" being wheeled down for a bone marrow harvest to give to a child lying in expectation in the hospital ward above. Or the squeezing of hands between a father and daughter before one is wheeled into an operating room to have her kidney removed while the other is wheeled into an adjoining operating room to be prepped for the receiving.
What about you? Are you an organ donor? Does it say so on your license? Does your family know? Do you donate blood? If you are not able, have you ever helped at a blood donor drive? Have you ever thought about being on a bone marrow registry?
Below are some links to sites that maintain lists of donors as well as provide information.