Nearly 1,500 Hoosiers, over 4,200 people in Illinois and more than 115,000 people nationwide are waiting for potential life-saving heart, liver, kidney, lung, pancreas or small bowel transplants, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.
In honor of Donate Life in Indiana, families touched by organ donation shared their stories of kindness during a remembrance service at Franciscan Health Munster earlier this year. Jacki Bush, X-ray technician at Franciscan Physician Network Hammond Clinic, shared her family's experience of agreeing to donate her son’s organs after he was hurt in a work-related incident, a decision her son made at the age of 16. Below is a selection from her remarks.
We were told that my son, Doug, would not survive through the night, but by God's grace we had five days with him. Although he was on machines the whole time, we were able to sit with him, talk with him, hold his hand, and share stories, of course, of family and friends. But five days later, we would be asked if we wanted to carry through with his decision that he made when he was 16 years old to be an organ donor that he had put on his driver's license. We, of course, said yes.
The very next day, his body was taken to surgery, and his liver was implanted into a 44-year-old woman who was a patient at Loyola. We later received letters from Give of Hope stating that his right kidney went to a 50-year-old man and his left kidney went to a 40-year-old man. We also heard from the eye bank that a woman in Chicago received the gift of his sight. I continue to pray that each of their bodies have accepted their new organ and that they are very much living healthy and happy lives.
Losing Doug at 21 years, six weeks, nine hours, and 53 minutes of age is the hardest thing we, as a family, have ever had to go through and not a club that I would ever want to join, but through it all God has been very faithful to us, caring for us, guiding and loving us through this journey. We know that Doug lived for His purpose and that he is in the presence of our Heavenly Father.
Each of us has numbered days. We are all here for God's purpose and His glory. His plan is perfect, even though we may not like it. I would like to encourage all of you that have received such extravagant gifts to please take the time to write to the family that is mourning. Knowing how much their gift has meant to you may just be what they need as they journey through their grief.
To learn how to register as an organ donor, visit GiftofHope.org.