Organ Donation A Gift of Love

As many of my friends and colleagues know, my dear friend underwent a successful liver transplant at the Cleveland Clinic Saturday, May 1. The surgery went well, and he is making an amazing recovery.

There are always uncertainties, of course, but the progress is encouraging, and all the signs are positive for a full recovery. Thanks be to God for prayers answered and a miraculous outcome. My friend is very fortunate that a donor match was found quickly, and that a donated liver became available while my friend was still in good overall health.

Unfortunately, sometimes, a person on a transplant list is too sick to receive a donated organ, or, as we’ve all heard, there are many patients who die while waiting for a matching organ that never becomes available.

All of this – both the successes and the sadness – points to the critical need for organ donation. If you are not registered as an organ donor, please, please, consider doing so immediately. It’s a simple process to register your wishes to become an organ donor. Also, please inform your family of your wishes, and encourage them to sign up as donors, too. You will be giving a gift that cannot be measured. With your donation, you could be extending and improving the lives of countless recipients.

I have long been an advocate of organ donation, and became especially aware of the critical need when transplantation was first mentioned as a possible route for my friend almost seven years ago. When life changes dramatically in that way, you become cognizant immediately of the urgency to find more donors for the thousands of people awaiting transplants every day. A theoretical issue becomes personal.

As it happened (not by accident, I would contend), the Sunday lectionary readings for the day after my friend’s transplant surgery spoke of the gift of love. Listening to those lessons, with prayers of thanksgiving and tears of gratitude coursing through me, I thought about the tremendous gift that the anonymous donor had given to my dear friend and possibly to recipients of other organs from the same donor.

All of us who know and love my (our) friend are so thankful for the gift of life and so grateful to the donor and his or her family for the life-giving generosity at a time of great loss. And my friend, because of the kind and caring person that he is, offered prayers, before and after surgery, for that donor and his or her loved ones, and expressed his deep gratitude for the priceless gift that he has received.

As one of our friends commented, “May that donor’s family know joy in their grief, that their generosity has given hope to a wonderful man and his many, many friends.” Another of our friends observed, “It’s truly a miracle of selflessness, kindness, generosity, skill, love and prayer.”

To which I say, “Amen, Amen, Alleluia.”

Please, sign a donor card, register your wishes on your driver’s license, and give the gift of life.

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Some people bemoan the development of social networking sites, electronic mail and other forms of Internet-based communication. But I have witnessed the power and value of e-mail and Facebook in regard to communicating news of my friend’s surgery and his post-surgical progress.

Posting urgent requests for prayers led to instantaneous results and revealed an amazing network of worldwide connections. Within a short time, prayers for my friend were being said all over the United States and in several other countries, including Scotland, England, Sweden, Quatar and Kenya.

Other friends began posting pleas for prayers, and soon our friends and friends of our friends were linked in a chain of prayers.

After surgery, our friend, the patient, was astounded by the number of people praying for him and the wide range of faith communities offering prayers for his healing and recovery.

Facebook postings (and re-postings by other friends) and e-mail messages have been an efficient, effective way to communicate news of our dear friend’s progress over the past week.

Yes, e-mail is frequently trivial and Facebook postings are often silly, and there is always the danger of retreating into one’s computer sanctuary and reacting to life impersonally, but when circumstances unfold in dramatic and serious ways, electronic media can offer a vital link and a true human connection bringing people together again at life’s most difficult times.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: