Carlos and I had a moment yesterday. It involved Kleenex :-). I was telling Carlos that we would go to the transplant support group on Wednesday and maybe he could talk to some LVADers who were having a hard time. Unbeknownst to me, he was asked to come talk to an older couple last Tuesday, where the husband was being counseled on an LVAD for destination therapy. So Carlos talked to the couple about life with an LVAD and all it had done for him. Carlos felt that this was what God was waiting for him to do before he could receive his gift. It was an emotional moment for us.
Last night, my mother and I chatted over a glass of wine or three. Prior to transplant, I always rationalized transplantation. I felt like a person was going to die, whether we took that heart or not. People in the LVAD groups would talk about 'the gift' and it sounded so cliche and trite. That was me rationalizing the whole process again. It's a medical procedure, not something spiritual and mystical! But then it happens to you, and your perspective changes.
Before getting married, I always felt like a marriage certificate was just a piece of paper. We didn't need a piece of paper to tell us we were committed. But then you take the leap and get married. And it is different. I felt a stronger connection to Carlos. Being committed in the eyes of the law added a new layer of intimacy. It was no longer as easy to walk away if things didn't work out. Getting the gift of a new heart changed my perspective.
Even though a person can choose to be an organ donor and indicate their wishes to family and friends, this doesn't mean a family has to follow through. By law, the family can deny organ donation. And many families do because of grief, religious beliefs, etc. I really began to think about where this heart had come from and the family members of the person who died when the heart was removed. How can you ever thank someone for making that decision in the midst of their despair? I am now amazed and astounded at the generosity it takes to extend this lifesaving gift. It was very emotional last night, and even now as I type, to contemplate.
I want to thank the family who agreed to save our family while theirs may have been falling apart. Organ donation is much more than a medical procedure and triumph.