April is National Donate Life Month, and my birthday month! I am so excited to turn 24, and this milestone is only possible because of my donor’s generosity. I’ve committed myself to promoting organ donor registration all month long through my social media.
I’m writing this having just returned from a six-hour photoshoot at 8pm. The images are being imported into my Lightroom catalog and I will have the energy to begin processing them tonight. I would never have been able to do this before my transplant and I don’t yet have all the words to express the joy and confidence this gives me.
This morning I flipped through the journal I wrote in while I was waiting on the heart-lung transplant list. The following is the last entry in it:
I’m not just waiting–I’m also sick. The story that I’m waiting around until I get a call that will allow my life to begin takes away every last strand of control I had. The reality is that I get out of breath going from my room to the bathroom and back. The reality is that I cannot photograph a wedding. I cannot walk my dog multiple times a day. I do not have the energy to cook and clean and do laundry. The idea is that I’m waiting for a future where I can do all that again. Maybe that future will come, maybe it won’t and maybe it will take an unbearably long time to get here. But there are lots of things I can do and I do not have to wait for that future to start living. Today I am in the present. I have control over what happens today–and I’m not going to spend it twiddling my thumbs and watching the clock.
After this perspective shift I started oil painting and going on occasional outings. But I only waited 17 more days before getting a call offering me my new heart and lungs. I was incredibly lucky. Having lost several friends to Pulmonary Hypertension while they were on the waiting list, I wrote in this journal knowing there was a good chance I would never get my call. There are currently 120,000 people waiting for organ transplants in the United States.
The same day I wrote this journal entry (thank you to my past self for having the good sense to date these things!), the White House hosted a summit announcing the Obama Administration’s call to action to reduce the waiting list for organ transplants. According to their statistics, 95% of Americans support organ donation, but only 50% are registered as donors. Are you registered? Make sure you are by visiting RegisterMe.org, and please talk to your family about your wishes.
My organ donor gave me a future in which I can do more than I ever thought possible. They are remembered and celebrated daily.