Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Happy "22nd", Dad- A Tribute to Organ Transplantation

We seem to be doing a lot of celebrating at Vivid Hue Home recently.   Today our celebration is on a much more personal level as my dad recognizes his 22nd year organ transplant anniversary.

See his previous celebrations here:  21st Birthday   |  20th Birthday   |  19th Birthday |  18th Birthday 

My parents, circa 1978 on a cruise in their formal wear (love the powder blue ruffled tuxedo shirt)

On August 25, 1994, my dad received an organ transplant.   
Prior to that date, he had been in the transplant recipient program for close to a year and a half.  Once he showed signs of advanced organ failure, he was moved to a critical wait list.  He received a pager (a sign of the times in 1994) and carried it with him day and night in hopes that he would be contacted about a donor.  Within a week of being put on this list, he received the call. 

At my sister's wedding, 2004
There are many factors that go into determining if the organ will be a good fit for a person in need of a transplant.   Some of the elements  considered are blood type, body size, severity of patient's medical condition, distance between the donor's hospital and the patient's hospital, the patient's waiting time, and the availability of the potential recipient (e.g., the patient can be contacted and has no current infection or other temporary reason that transplant cannot take place). (*1)


My dad's donor was a sixteen year old teenager who died in a car accident.   In a weird twist of fate, my dad was not the first person called that morning to receive the organ.  A different patient was called first and she excitedly rushed to the hospital only to learn that her cavity in which the organ was to be placed was too small to fit the available organ.  As her family must have experienced anguish and disappointment, my family hopefully stood by to see if my dad would be compatible.  And he was.   
Though we have never known the donor or his/her family, their unselfish decision to donate has allowed my family to experience over two additional decades with my dad.

Grandpa Dewey and Mor Mor (my parents) 

One aspect of organ transplantation I don't know if many understand, is that organ rejection is a constant threat.    The transplant recipient's life is forever altered, requiring them to take daily combinations of anti-rejection medication for the rest of their lives (the body's natural reaction is to reject the new organ as a foreign object).  Maintaining health isn't a straight forward path.  
 Often there are severe side effects and health conditions that result from taking these drugs.  It's common for doctors to make frequent adjustments to the combination of drugs.  And sometimes, other organs can become at risk due to the prolonged use of these medications.  It's a courageous journey, but one I'll bet most transplant recipients would say is worth it for the reward of life. 

My parents, circa 1970 as my dad was leaving for Vietnam


One donor can save up to 8 lives (*2). 

When I first started talking about organ donation, the take away was to let those close to you know you are interested in donation and indicate on your driver's license that you want to be a donor.  I'm happy to see that technology has caught up with this cause.  Now, if you'd like to be on the donation list you can simply register by state online here.  

So, to Dad, happy 22nd Anniversary.  I am so blessed to have had an extra quarter of a century with you (and expect more) where you are healthy and a part of our lives.  I have grown to know you on a much deeper level as an adult woman and I am so proud that you're my dad.  I owe so much of who I am as a person today to you, because of how you (and Mamma Moore) raised me.  

To many more celebrations!  

Love, 
Heather 


*1 According to the Department of Health and Human Services, "Organ Matching." 
*2. Department of Health and Human Services "Why Donate"

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