Give the gift of life this holiday season

Yesterday, I had the wonderful experience of going with my parents and siblings to a support group meeting organized by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.  Those of you who know my family know that my Dad has Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.  As a family we’ve been coming to grips with what it will be like if my Dad can get a lung transplant, which at present is the only reasonable "treatment" for IPF. There were two guest speakers.  Each a lung transplant recipient.  Each an inspiration in terms of their quality of recovery, and more importantly, their quality of character.  We all came away feeling empowered with a special kind of knowledge. It is the knowledge of first hand accounts of what it is really like – the ups and downs, physically and emotionally, of being an organ donation recipient.

The first speaker, Tom, was at the time he received his single lung transplant the oldest lung transplant recipient, at age 73.  Tom is now age 75, and looks great.  He has had stressful, and at times, discouraging journey, but is now enjoying a normal quality of life.  He breaths freely, enjoys golfing regularly and all in all lives a normal life.  To see someone so vigorous post-transplant was tremendously encouraging.  His experience proves that the effort can be worth it.

The second speaker, Steve Ferkau, was already familiar to me.  I became aware of Steve and his story several years ago through my participation in the annual Hustle Up the Hancock event.  Steve has cystic fibrosis and is a double lung recipient.  Steve climbs the Hancock each year in honor of his donor, which you can read about here: ClimbingForKari.  Steve has used his experience to inspire others and to recruit participation in organ and tissue donation programs.  It was an honor hear Steve speak and meet him in person. You can read more, directly from Steve, on his blog: Revive Hope

Take a moment right now to sign up to be an Organ and Tissue Donor.

If you live in Illinois, register online at http://www.lifegoeson.com/   (Update 12/5/07, from Scott: "I’d also encourage you to swing by our Donate Life Illinois site (www.DonateLifeIllinois.org) where we have a lot of great information and an ever-increasing community of online supporters throughout Illinois.")

Note that you may have in the past signed the back of your Illinois driver’s license to indicate that you wish to be a donor.  Even if you did that, you should still re-register at the link above. A new law, effective Jan. 1, 2006, created a new Organ/Tissue Donor Registry making a person’s wishes to be a donor legally binding. Additional witnesses or family consent is no longer required for donation to occur.

If you need information specific to where you live outside of Illinois, start at http://www.donatelife.net/ You’ll find all the information you need there to get you pointed in the right direction.

Finally, as you are considering your end of the year charitable donations, I would also like to encourage you to support the following two causes:

My Family thanks you.

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2 Responses to Give the gift of life this holiday season

  1. BreathinSteven says:

    Hi Larry!!!
     
    It was so wonderful meeting you and your sisters and your family!!!  And I think it is truly wonderful that you were all there with your Dad…  That means so very much to those of us struggling with something like this.  Unlike your Pop, my family watched me go down hill all of my life — never the less, when you hit that point where the only option left is transplant, I think the whole family suddenly has a realization of just how sick you are…  And it\’s truly inspiring to see a family rally together like yours is, and mine did…
     
    I love that all of you are climbing the Hancock in honor and support of your Dad!!!  That is so cool…  And it makes the climb so much more meaningful and emotional…  You KNOW that I always climb in honor and memory of my donor, Kari — the past several years I\’ve had several of her friends join me — I blogged about it a little in Stairs…Just Stairs…  But last year I also dedicated my climb to a precious CF double lunger who had climbed with me the prior three years, Lizzy…  To be able to climb in support of someone, or in memory of someone, makes these climbs so much more meaningful…  I\’m so very proud of you and all of your sisters…
     
    Thanks so much for posting all of the organ donation information — it\’s such a very important message to leave people with — and it\’s such an incredible beautiful gift…  And it was an incredible honor for me to be able to speak to your Dad and all of you — I hope I provided a little inspiration!
     
    I\’ll look forward to seeing you and Ed\’s Elevators at the Hustle in February!!!  They\’ll probably have a little gathering for the "lung health champions" like they did last year — maybe I\’ll see you at that too!
     
    I\’m proud of all of you — I hope your Dad\’s experience is more wonderful than mine has been (if that\’s conceivably possible!!!)
     
    Love,
     
    Steve
     
     
     

  2. scott says:

    A fantastic post, thank you for sharing this information and helping to spread the word on the importance of organ/tissue donation. If you get a chance, I\’d also encourage you to swing by our Donate Life Illinois site (www.DonateLifeIllinois.org) where we have a lot of great information and an ever-increasing community of online supporters throughout Illinois. As you mention above, it\’s so crucial that Illinois residents take a moment to re-register and join the state\’s new donor consent registry. Illinoisans can also quickly register at http://www.DonateLifeIllinois.org. Thanks again, we\’re thinking of you all.
     
    -Scott M.
    Donate Life Illinois – Campaign Manager

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