Sunday, November 23, 2008

There are no coincidences

So LAST Sunday I spoke in church about organ donation. Pastor Seth said about 3 minutes. Hah! Somehow I managed to stop speaking before anyone started yawning. Seriously, a lot of people told me I did a good job speaking and that they were going to put "organ donor" on their driver's licenses and so on. Which is nice, because I never look a positive affirmation in the mouth.

What really floored me is that one woman, who I've sat near and chatted with on occasion, came over during coffee hour and told me that her son was an organ donor last year, in the very same PICU where I used to work. We probably talked for half an hour, at least. She told me how hard it is, but how sharing his organs has given her some meaning, a way to cope better with having her only child die. I can't even imagine-I think about it and it makes me want to ground my kids for life so nothing bad will happen to them.

For me, as a coordinator, it was nice to hear that donating has helped her and I told her so. I've only ever seen families when their grief is still raw and fresh, so it was a blessing for me to hear her say that donating his organs is helping her heal. I've said it before and I'll say it again, donation is a solace in a time of mourning.

This past week I met a friend for coffee who is now the hospital services manager of the hospital where that very same PICU resides. She's having resistance, of which I am familiar, to donation. Not that the staff is against organ donation, theoretically. It's just that PICU people tend to be very possessive of their little ones and don't take kindly to OPO staff "hovering around". I told her I'd be available to talk to them, if she wanted.

So now I'm in church again today and the woman who's a donor mom and I sit together. While talking I mention the above to her. She got quiet. I didn't want to ask for her help, because she already told me that she doesn't think she's ready to talk publicly about it. But I can see she's thinking. After services, she tells me that if I ever need anyone to talk to the PICU staff, I can call her. I told her I'd take her up on it.

Because no matter how good I can gab, she's the one they're going to listen to.


PJ Geraghty said...

Amen...that mother will have more impact than every coordinator in the US would ever have would that PICU.

That being said, I found that I developed a pretty good relationship with one of the PICU docs where I used to work, simply by making a difficult case run smoothly. He'd been pretty resistant to donation prior to then, but our (collective) work on that case turn him around 180 degrees, and when I left he was a huge supporter. A big part of it, though, was the family's great feelings about donation from that particular case.

One of the toughest parts of management is not being able to make that kind of impact on a day-to-day basis anymore. I like to think that I sometimes have an effect on our overall direction, but I'm not always successful...

Sex Mahoney for President said...

Life affirming stories? I like the ghoulishness of pediatric organ harvesting, why can't more people embrace their inner ghoul?

Just Me said...

I agree with the "no coincidences" part of has been quite a while since I have visited your blog! I think it would be really interesting to hear from the donor side of transplant. I don't work in the PICU, but it doesn't seem like we have pediatric donors at our hospital very often. I'm actually not sure how I would handle "that side" of things (as much as I think it would be really cool to go with the team to get organs for one of our patients, it seems like that takes would take some emotional strength I'm not sure I have).

Anyway, that is really neat that you spoke at your church, and I really think talking to the staff would help (either you or the mother or both!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

2ndHeartBeat said...

TC ~ THANK you for all that you do in regard to organ donation and keeping us recipients alive.


Today, I thank you!!!


JimGleason said...

Thanks for your very interesting sharing. As aheart recipient 15 years ago, I offer my personal thanks for the work you do, but going beyond that, let me share the thanks from recipients and donor families from around the world - just read the story and follow the thank you letter links at

- Jim Gleason (New Jersey)
(where you can link to my free book, A Gift from the Heart)

Anonymous said...

Well, I am very concerned. In my research there seems to be alot of deception going on to hide some very ugly facts about organ donation. Is it true that you paralyze the bodies of organ donors so they dont move? I have recently lost a teenage family member and I have to say, she wasnt even given 24 hours after her accident before her parents were pressured to "pull the plug". They were told she would save the lives of "50" people -bulls**t! Why is it necessary to lie? Did she feel the knife go in? Brain waves of (delta) -that is what the parents were told is death. I guess we all die everynight! I will spread the word as long as you and the insurance companies behind you lie!
Did she feel her organs being cut out as she lay in a dream-like state?

Anonymous said...

Hello! I just found your blog and really enjoy reading your stories! Your a great writer and it's really wonderful to read these stories thru your eyes and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do and for promoting organ donation. My little boy Brandon received his liver transplant at 15 months old at Texas Children's after fighting Stage III Hepatoblastoma, he will be 2 years out in May and is doing amazing! We are so thankful for every day! I look forward to reading more from you! Thank you!!! Take care! :)

Lindsey Fox said...

I just wanted to say that you are an inspiration to me as a graduating nursing student. I wasn't sure in what direction I wanted to take in nursing, but after my step-father received a liver transplant in 2007, I believe I have found my calling. I feel fortunate that I happened to stumble upon your blog by way of Google.