Northwest NEWS

April 12, 1999


Thankful for gift of life

   I am a sixteen-year-old resident of Woodinville. Last year, I needed a liver transplant when I was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. After being put on the transplant list, I discovered the awesome demand for organs.

   I realized that if every person who died was an organ donor, people would not be forced to wait so long. I was extremely fortunate and got my liver quickly. However, many people wait 6 to 18 months and sometimes longer. The general public needs to know how important it is to be an organ donor.

   Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the desperate need for organs. I do not blame them for their lack of knowledge; I did not know the extent of the need for organs before I needed one myself. It is only vaguely introduced to you when you are applying for your [driver's] license.

   There are no signs inside the Department of Licensing buildings, and they do not always ask you. Some people do not even know that it is an option. The concept of being an organ donor should first be introduced in the booklet before you get your instruction permit. The section needs to consist of a paragraph or two instead of one brief sentence. When I was diagnosed, my own mother was not a donor, because she did not know enough about organ donation.

   I know that without my transplant I might not have survived very long. Many patients are on the lists so long that their bodies give out before ever receiving an organ.

   However, I can understand the concerns that people have. For instance, I am aware that some people are afraid that if they are in an accident and go into a coma that the doctors will pull their life support too soon. What they do not know is that it is the family's decision to pull the life support. No family is going to do that without making sure that the brain is unable to function properly.

   More importantly, if it was you or a loved one who desperately needed a transplant and someone died who was a not a donor, wouldn't you have wished that they were?

   The next time you renew your driver's license, be aware of who you might be able to help and put a check mark in the box next to the word, "Donor." You never know how many lives you might be able to save.

   I would like to personally commend all of the people who are organ donors and urge those who are not to take this serious matter into consideration. I am thankful every day for the selflessness of my donor's family and the precious gift of the life I have received.

Erin Metcalf, Woodinville