My Son and a Strangers Liver
The worst day in someone’s life, in some family’s life, may have saved my son. This central fact defines so much of the surreal organ donation experience.
On July 15, 2016, somewhere in the greater New York metropolitan area, a 14-year-old died of unspecified head bleeding. We don’t know what happened, the donor’s name, if they were a boy or a girl, what they were like, what they wanted for the future—all we know is that his or her family, in what was presumably the worst moment of their lives, consented to donate their child’s organs.
A fraction of that child’s left lateral lobe is now sitting inside little Stanley’s abdomen, finally giving him a chance to thrive and live a normal, healthy life. The remaining portions of that liver are somewhere else, right now, in some other hospital, in some other patient.
The three families impacted by this one liver all woke up today to a new world of grief, anxiety, uncertainty and hope. We don’t know each other—and may never come in contact. But I’m grateful nonetheless for the donor family’s generosity. Thank you, whoever you are. You’ve given us a chance to see the person Stanley will become—every smile, every step, every word. I hope you and your loved ones find peace.
I also want to thank all of the donors who, on other unknown days, kindly gave blood to be used in the numerous transfusions required for an intensive transplant procedure. Every drop made the difference.
Additionally, thanks to all the doctors and nurses at the Columbia University Medical Center Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation and Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York who have cared and will care for Stanley throughout his surgery and recovery, especially his hepatologist, Dr. Mercedes Martinez, and his surgeon, Dr. Jean Emond.
Finally, I want to thank all of you who gave your time, support (moral, financial and otherwise), kind words and so much else through this long journey.
Watching the news out of Baton Rouge, Nice, Turkey and too many other places to list can make you forget that humans have a deep well of altruism and good will. It’s been a scary time for our little family, but it’s been leavened by the kindness of loved ones and strangers alike.
As for what’s next, Stanley is in the midst of an intensive recovery and faces years of vigilance. It’s not over, but now he has a real chance. Which is great, because Amber and I love this little guy.
So, I want to ask: Are you signed up to be an organ donor? If not, you should: http://www.organdonor.gov. It's easy and doesn't impact the normal course of your life or any future medical care. And, once you're signed up, you can walk around like the future hero you are!
Hopefully you won't have to donate for many, many years. But, when the moment comes, you could give one or two or three or more families another day and another chance at life.
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