Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Organ donors

My younger brother has been diabetic since 1991. 4 years ago, he was also diagnosed with lupus, Addison’s, and hypothyroid pretty much all at the same time. His health has never been a great subject and has led to hospital time and scary days for our family.

A couple of weeks ago, my father saw a video news report about a new treatment for diabetes. My parents and my brother began talking about it, Mum doing a lot of research and making contacts. Within a couple of days, my brother was in contact with the Clinical Islet Transplant Program at the University of Alberta. He spoke to them back & forth about his medical conditions, his medications, etc. Last week he received word that he can begin the application process to be part of the program. He will go through 4 weeks of consistent blood sugar testing & recording, get his doctor’s signature, and fill out the necessary paperwork.

The procedure entails taking islets from cadaver organs and then transplanting them into my brother's liver. Luckily, he is a very thin person and likely to only need islets from one donor. Timing will depend on the availability of donors, but it could happen as soon as March of next year.

There are still more hurdles to overcome, and I try to temper my hopefulness with realism, but it’s hard not to be excited. If this transplant works, my brother’s life expectancy could be increased greatly. He could possibly see some improvements in his other medical conditions as well. Not to mention the freedom of foods and beverages and not worrying about insulin as much, or possibly, at all.

It’s an exciting time for him. I pray that he will continue to get through the next steps of the application without roadblocks, and if he finally makes it to Transplant Day, that it will work without incident.

A few years ago, my grandfather received cornea transplants from an organ donor. I had been thinking about organ donation for a while, but after this event and the improvement to my grandfather's sight, I decided to pull the trigger and actually sign up. The donor corneas allowed my grandfather to have better sight so he could still read and function on his own. I thought of how many people my organs could save, how many stories you hear of people killed in accidents and how their organs can help multiple people. I have a relative and a friend who are both on transplant lists, and I know how much it matters to me that they stick around as long as possible.

I do not drink coffee, tea, or alcohol. I am in good health. My wish is to be cremated after I am gone from this world. While I hope to live a long time, if anything were to happen to me, I'm sure my organs would be quite valuable. I could save and/or improve the life of many people who needed it: daughters, mothers, fathers, sons, brothers. In my mind, it is the ultimate gift.

If you haven't thought about organ donation, please do take some time to consider it. Think about your wishes for your body, your religious views, your health status. If you're like me, in good health and don't wish to be buried, then I encourage you to consider signing your organ donor card. When you do, inform your family so they are aware of your wishes. You never know when you, or someone close to you, may need a donation to live.


Liza said...

What wonderful news for your entire family!! Your brother's life has never been easy, so I'll join the prayer wishes for an early donor, an easy surgery, and a complete recovery.


Cyn said...

This is fantastic news! I'm hoping as I work through more recent posts that I'll find an update :)

As someone whose preference is to be buried & in generally miserable health I have signed on my card that whatever part of my insides & eyes are useful are there to take. Whatever parts of me still work well, someone is more than welcome to have.