Thursday, March 12, 2009

How to be really important after you die

[poster by high school student Meghan Walsh]
Today is national Kidney Awareness Day. As it happened, I got my monthly blood draw at the OSU transplant center, so they can quickly check me for a match anytime a kidney comes in from a deceased type O donor. I've been on this waiting list for a year, answering the phone every time it rings; the average wait is three years.

Thousands of people die every year waiting for an organ, many of them kidney patients on dialysis, which extends life for a while at great cost and often with many difficulties. I'm walking a tightrope now, still getting along without dialysis. Stem cell research on organ regeneration isn't going fast enough to give me hope.

If you are not already a donor, you can go to this site right now -

Some twenty years ago, Tom had to talk me into becoming a donor. I'm an intuitive person, and I felt seriously spooked about being cut up and having my parts distributed after death - I wanted all of me to go up in smoke at the same time, as if it were a question of integrity.

Well, I've seen a lot of death since then, and I have a different understanding now. Like, dead is dead. You're gone, and your body is going to turn into something else, whether soil or flame and ash. But, amazingly, your organs can live on in someone else's body and save someone else's life. You won't mind. It's nice to think you might look on with a smile.

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