Posts Tagged ‘donor registry’
Thanksgiving is an interesting holiday. It originated years ago when Native Americans and the early settlers celebrated a good harvest. In modern days, most of us do not raise crops to sustain us throughout the winter months, so Thanksgiving has become more of a time to reflect on those things we have been most thankful for during the year.
Nationally, supporters of organ donation celebrated the fact that 100 million people in the United States have registered their wishes to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. On a more individual basis, some recipients and donor family members took a minute to express thanks for donation and the difference it has made in their own lives.
One man celebrated 15 years of life with a heart transplant by entering a bowling tournament and telling others about donation. Another man celebrated his 10 year anniversary of a multiple organ transplant with the family of his donor. A family traveled to Utah from out of state to attend the high school graduation of the young woman who received their son’s heart after he passed away.
Organ donation has given people who once had no other hope a reason to celebrate the fact they are able to spend another holiday season with their families. It has also given families who have lost a loved one some comfort in knowing their decision meant the world to someone else. This Thanksgiving, I’m going to take a minute to look around my dinner table and give thanks for those who mean everything to me.
Thursday, August 4, is the big day! I have been writing updates about James Jonsson who will be swimming across Lake Tahoe in an attempt to break the world record. James is a strong supporter of organ, eye and tissue donation and he hopes that people hearing of his swim will make the commitment to sign up on their state’s donor registry if he is successful in his attempt to break the record. (Of course, he hopes that if he falls short of his goal, people will still support him by registering as donors.)
There are actually 3 lengthwise crossing records for Lake Tahoe. One is from the north shore to the south shore. This record will not apply to James. The other two records both start in about the same place, but one finishes at the Hyatt Pier in Incline Village and the other finishes to the west of Hyatt Pier which is the longest point-to-point swim on the lake. James’ final destination will be determined during the swim!
If James chooses the shorter swim, it will be 20.81 miles. The current record was set on September 12, 1987, by Dave Kenyon. It took him 9 hours 20 minutes.
If James chooses the longer route, will be 22.1 miles. The current record was set on August 22, 2005, by Ken Harmon. It took him 11 hours 19 minutes to make that swim.
James has been training for months, both in a swimming pool and in lakes. He has worked on speed, endurance, and his ability to continue in colder water. He has even had to work at gaining weight! Good luck James. We are cheering for you.
James Jonsson is only four weeks away from his swim across Lake Tahoe! The amount of time and commitment that goes into something like this is incredible. He has been swimming at Deer Creek Reservoir every week for about a month and a half. The water there is starting to warm up, so it is in the low 60s now. Luckily, Lake Tahoe is also warming up, so James should be accustomed to the water temperature when he begins his swim.
Not only does James have to put in a lot of swimming hours to get ready, but there are procedures he must follow. His goal is to break the world record, so he recently received his permits/approvals from the US Coast Guard and the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His swim is officially legal now.
James is promoting organ donation through his swim. He did an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune last December and Open Water Swimming also highlighted his swim. Organ donation is very close to James’ heart. Several years ago, his father received a life saving kidney transplant and James saw first hand the difference this made in his life. Then in 2003, James made the decision to donate organs when his 8 year old son passed away. Through his record breaking swim, James hopes to encourage others to register on their state’s donor registry. In Utah, log on to www.yesutah.org.
I met Shaun in his shop a couple of months ago. He walked in, mentioned that he had just dropped his kids off at school, and then started to talk about his plans for the motorcycle rally he is planning. Before I left, he handed me a disc with pictures from the first Gift of Life rally that had been organized by his friends. Shaun didn’t ride in that rally. Instead, he watched it from the sidewalk of LDS Hospital, sitting in a wheelchair and hooked up to oxygen. Looking at those pictures, it was really hard to believe that the man in the picture was the same man who is now running his own motorcycle shop, planning a huge event and involving himself in his children’s lives. Organ transplants save lives, but they do more than that; they give back a quality life.
Six years ago, Shaun was waiting for a heart transplant. His condition had become fairly critical when his friends organized a motorcycle rally in his honor. They planned the route to go right past the hospital so that Shaun could be a part of the festivities. Shaun has continued to carry on the tradition and is in the process of organizing the 6th annual Gift of Life Rally for Transplants. This year’s event has something for everyone. For non-bikers, he has planned a 5K poker walk that will take place at the same time as the ride. Following the ride/walk, there will be music, food, and shopping at the park. There will also be a classic car/bike show, stunt riders and a variety of other activities.
Funds raised at this event will be used to provide additional education about organ donation and transplantation. There will be information about organ, eye and tissue donation at the rally. Anyone who has questions or concerns can pick up some information or log on to www.yesutah.org.
I am humbled by some of the amazing people whose lives have been touched by donation. The following poem was written by a donor family member after hearing some of the stories at a ceremony we hold annually to honor organ, eye and tissue donors and their families. When she emailed the poem, she mentioned one story in particular that touched her – the story of a young heart recipient, Kaidence. I will post Kaidence’s story later and share it with each of you.
In the email that accompanied this poem, the author mentioned that Kaidence’s family never imagined they would need the gift of donation to save their daughter’s life. Likewise, she could have never imagined they would be in position to be offering the gift of donation. Life can be unexpected.
Here is her amazing poem…
Be a Donor?
Sure I’ll sign the card.
Not planning on leaving right away….
Not anytime soon.
Then… a challenge comes
Suddenly… unexpectedly… without warning….
Bleakness, desperation… hopelessness…
Never to be the same….
Living, Doing, Being… Altered…
Without help from Someone.
Overwhelmed and so very anxious.
I need a Donor?
Then… a Gift given
Suddenly, unexpectedly, with great care, love, grace and thoughtfulness….
Encouragement, Peace… Hope…
Living, Doing, Being… Renewed…
With help from Someone… Someone able to give such a Gift.
Blessed and so very grateful.
Sign the Card.
Save a life.
Be a Donor.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to learn about a boy named Adam.
Adam passed away as a result of an automobile accident in 1995. He was only 9 years old. Adam’s parents, though they had never discussed donation, made the decision to donate Adam’s organs and help others who were in need. They also made another difficult decision. They decided to share Adam’s story in an effort to help others faced with a similar choice. A 1996 newspaper article credits their willingness to share Adam’s story with, “helping to increase the number of organ donations in Utah to its highest rate in four years.” It is amazing the impact one person can have.
A Salt Lake man who heard Adam’s story wrote a poem and mailed it anonymously to Adam’s father. That poem can still be found on the University of Michigan Transplant Center Website.
That incredible poem reads:
To Dad and Mother
I am looking down on earth from here
And I see what you have done
You helped a lot of people
I am proud to be your son
It took a lot of moxie
To give up part of me
But my heart now beats for someone
And someone else can see
I would like to spend a lot of time
Just watching what they do
And if they did some splendid thing
I’d think I did it too
I still don’t know if this was planned
I kinda think it was
I surely hope that that’s the case
And my life was for that cause
I would love to be with you again
To ease your sorrowing
But if it meant retrieve my parts
I wouldn’t change a thing
Your loving son,
December 19, 1985 – May 22, 1995
It has been almost 16 years. They have had contact with many of Adam’s recipients and one of the recipients even named his son Adam in honor of the boy who saved his life. Adam’s family still finds comfort in knowing that Adam was able to save lives. Adam’s grandma told me, “Every time I read in the newspaper that someone was a donor, I know someone else will live because of that decision.”
I had the pleasure yesterday of attending the celebration of the 25th anniversary of IMC/LDS Hospital Liver Transplant program. The very first liver transplant recipient from Utah was in attendance. He received his transplant on March 22, 1986. He is currently 79 years old and still looks great. They also had a donor mother and the wife of a liver transplant recipient who was an amazing volunteer for the transplant program speak at this celebration.
In the last 25 years, this program has transplanted almost 750 livers. However, the most amazing thing about a celebration like this are the people. As I spoke with transplant recipients and their family members, they are so grateful to be alive. They are incredibly grateful to the donors who took the time to make their wishes known before their deaths and to the families of their donors who, in their time of grief, thought of someone else and made the decision to give this precious gift to another.
I don’t think I am the only one who is waiting for the weather to warm up a little. I joke about it being time to go swimming or boating, but seriously, it is way too cold still for me to even consider swimming in a lake right now. This is only one of the many reasons I am so amazed by James Jonsson’s training schedule.
James is attempting to break the world record for swimming Lake Tahoe and in the process; he is raising awareness about the need for organ donation.
In March, he swam 129.43 miles! He is hoping to be able to begin swimming at Deer Creek Reservoir towards the end of April. Once the ice melts and the water hits 45 degrees, he will start doing some of his training there.
James will also be raising awareness about organ donation at an open house on April 27. James and several other people who have a connection to organ donation will be available at the open house to answer people’s questions about organ donation. The open house will be at:
Salt Lake Community College
4600 S. Redwood Rd.
Student Center Rm 221-223
6:00 – 8:30 pm.
I drove past a bank Friday night and noticed their electronic sign which read, “Save lives. Be an organ donor. www.yesutah.org.” I was so excited. National Donate Life Month is in full swing and we appreciate the support we are receiving from local banks and businesses who have added a donation message on their electronic signs during the month of April.
For all of our Facebook friends, we extended a request last week to post, ‘April is National Donate Life Month. I’m a registered organ, eye and tissue donor. Are you? Go to www.yesutah.org to register. Copy and post this in your status to show your support for donation!’ as their profile message. If you are a Facebook friend and missed that post, it’s not too late to put this as your profile message.
We are also teaming up with Lagoon to offer discount Lagoon coupons to everyone who is either already registered as a donor or to people who choose to register as a donor now. Information can be found at http://www.yesutah.org/content/lagoon.
Help us celebrate National Donate Life Month. If you haven’t already “liked” us on Facebook, we would love to have you as one of our friends. If you are already a friend, feel free to post a comment about organ donation and why you are a supporter. Let’s spread the word.
The training required for any major athletic endeavor is incredible. I’ve been following James Jonsson as he trains for his attempt at breaking the world record for swimming across Lake Tahoe and I am in awe!
In February, he swam a total of 110.07 miles – over 3875 laps in a standard 25 yard pool!
Not only is he putting in the distance, but he is also getting faster. He is mixing in sprint sets along with his pace work and his 1,000 yard split times are several seconds faster than they were just last month.
He has even been able to gain two pounds! Apparently when you put that much time and energy into your workout, you can eat anything you want and then some.
James holds out the challenge to anyone and everyone, “If I break the record, will you commit to registering as an organ donor?”
Keep up the swimming James. We’re cheering for you.