I spent the last few weeks attending weddings, visiting with family on the Dill/Hammer side and catching up with old friends. A post shall be written on those adventures very soon.
But while I was out and about, something very significant took place for my Oregon family that I feel I need to write about first.
The last couple of years, my Uncle Rob has dealt with the symptoms and struggles of two failing kidneys. Additionally, he is diabetic and therefore had trouble with his pancreas as well. Because his kidneys were functioning at such a low percentage (20% I believe, maybe less), they put him on the donor list.
The wait began.
I’ve struggled with praying specifically for organs to become available. I wanted to pray that my Uncle’s life be saved and drastically improved with a transplant surgery…but that meant another person would lose their life. How could I pray for the death of another person? I couldn’t bring myself to do that. My prayers came out general and non-specific – “Lord, heal him. Lord, make him well. In whatever way possible, make Uncle Rob healthy.”
And then last week, my Uncle got a call.
Now, organ transplants are tricky. Especially a pancreas. They have a tendency to stop functioning once removed from the donor’s body. This happened the first time they called Uncle Rob up to OHSU. But a couple days later he received another call, and back up to Portland they went.
This time, he waited a long time to go into surgery. From what we can understand, it’s because the person hadn’t actually died yet, but that it was just a matter of time… of hours until he or she would pass. How heart wrenching. That while we eagerly waited the gift of life, others were having to say goodbye to a loved one. It seems unfair.
But this young person who passed away, the very last act of his or her life was a life-giving, self-sacrificing act of love. They decided, that in the event of their death, they would give themselves away for another person, for a stranger. And because of this person’s selfless donation, my Uncle can live.
While I had a hard time dealing with the idea of transplant before my Uncle received the kidneys and pancreas, I can now see this gift as Christ-like. My Uncle gets a chance a new life… a chance that none of us deserve or are entitled to….but because of someone’s self-donation, he has the chance to live again. This is a glimpse at Christ’s love on the Cross. Although this donor did not choose to die, as Christ did, they still gave their body up to provide life to another…just as Christ gives us his precious Body and Blood to us to give us a chance for eternal life.
Thank you to the person who was brave and selfless enough to become an organ donor. Thank you to their family, for that sacrifice and may God be with you in your healing process. Thank you to the medical professionals who give theirs lives to save and enhance the physical lives of other humans. Thank you to the priest who came to pray over and anoint my Uncle before his surgery – for your vocation is truly life-giving, preparing people for eternal life. Thank you to the members of my family who selflessly made the long drives and long nights to be with my Uncle when I could not be there. And thank you to my Uncle, who through this reception of organs, has taught me a little bit more about how to receive the gift of love.
Let us cherish this chance at new life. And live in the gratitude of the ones (and particularly the One) who give us life…in this life, and in the next.