As I’ve gotten older, organ donation as meant different things to me. At 16, when I received my driver’s license, I willingly marked that I would be an organ donor. I thought to myself, “I won’t need my organs wherever we go after death, but someone else may.”
Fast forward my life to age 30, I’m still an organ donor and most individuals in my family are too. On September 3, 2017, organ donation became a real thing to me. My mother was taken to the hospital that morning because she was having trouble breathing. The doctors came and told me that they had been conducting CPR on my mom for over 45 minutes and since I was her eldest child, I made the decision to withdraw care. I was in nursing school at the time and I knew that with the length of the CPR that she was no longer with us.
In the whirlwind of those moments after her passing, I was told my mother was a registered organ and tissue donor, and that a KODA representative was going to call me to ask some questions. The woman on the phone was extremely kind and knew that this probably wasn’t the most convenient time to ask questions, but it was something that needed to occur. I remember one of her first statements was that I had the right to decline my mothers wishes for donation and she asked me if I wanted to proceed with the donation. I couldn’t believe that even though it was my mothers wish to donate [tissue], that I could essentially veto her decision.
My mother and I were super close and I couldn’t imagine going against something as precious as what my mom wanted to do. So I of course agreed and continued through several, and I mean several questions, some of which made me laugh. The impact of my mothers donation didn’t really hit me until I started receiving cards, inspirational letters, and information on my mothers donation from the After Care Team at KODA. I never responded to the letters, emails or cards because in the moment, it was too hard and too fresh, but I truly looked forward to them. It was as if a piece of my mom was in those letters and she was reminding me of her bittersweet gift.
I believe that education and awareness is an extremely powerful tool. The more individuals understand about donation, the more I believe people will become donors. People fear the unknown and question things they are uncertain of. We need to build a strong platform about Organ and Tissue Donation so that there isn’t that fear or uncertainty about it. If each person, who is a donor, could influence a handful of other people to become donors, we can truly make a difference.
I had to lose my mother to fully appreciate the donation process and I wish more than anything that she was still here, but I know that she would want me to spread awareness and to volunteer with this organization to impact others. She lives on because of the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry.