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:
- Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Click here to donate
- My family’s team, "Ed’s Elevators" in our upcoming Hustle up the Hancock in honor of my Dad. Click here to donate.
My Family thanks you.