I have been floored in recent years through encountering the amazing world of organ donation. Organ donor organizations have invited me in to train them on religious diversity but I have been inspired by them. Their entire job is to save lives. The secret of donation is that it not only benefits the recipient (whose life is saved), it also offers great meaning to donor families during a time of great loss. It provides some hope, some good, some light in a time of real darkness. It is an amazing thing they do. Last week, I gave my fourth training session to organizations in this field, this time to the New Jersey Sharing Network. That quilt behind me is a regular feature in these organizations. Donor families contribute squares to remember their lost loved ones. They are deeply poignant reminders of both loss and hope.
Amidst the training, I also took part in their symposium that inspired and educated about donation to an audience of 400.
Patti, the lovely woman to the left of me, is a donor mom. Her 1 yr old child died but by donating her child's organs, she saved multiple lives. Her children and family were all there to advocate for others to consider making the same choice. She's dedicated to the movement full time. I thought she was amazing.
One last story: there was a 70+ yr old woman in the audience whose 39 yr old daughter, inspired by an episode of Law & Order (of all things) decided to be a living donor. In short, she donated her kidney (since you don't need both) anonymously. Often people donate kidneys to save a family member but her daughter just donated it for whoever needed it. The mother came for the surgery (to support her daughter) and, while in the waiting room, struck up a conversation and found out the other family in the room was, of course, the recipient's family whose loved one, they explained, was being saved by "an angel." The mom was so struck by her daughter's generosity that when she went home, she did the same thing. At age 70. Yeah, that is what this field is like. You're left with your heart in your throat. Glad I was able to help them understand more about religious communities and how they think about donation. I hope it helps them to reach out to folks in these communities to consider signing their donor cards and, in so doing, to save lives.