There are days that I will never forget, the ones where I lose patients, the days when I’m reduced to tears over the heart break of a situation I’ve been trying to stay strong through for an entire shift, the ones where a critical patient comes back to say thank you, having survived what many wouldn’t.  There are moments that have etched themselves upon my heart for a lifetime, and when I think back over the days that I have spent giving my life to others in this way, it is the soft edges of these marks left on my heart that makes me both smile and brings tears to my eyes.  These are reasons to be proud, this is my legacy of love, sometimes marked in tenderness, sometimes christened in the fire of some of the most difficult and complex situations I could ever imagine.

I will tell you, there is never a more tender moment for me than when I open that envelope from the organ bank saying thank you.  There has been more than one morning when I’ve held back the tears as I completed the paperwork and made that call for patient’s families.  It is an amazing gift, sharing your body in death so that others can live more fully.  It is my priviledge to be able to help arrange that as a patient’s last wish.  When that letter comes, several weeks later, and I receive confirmation of their final gift, it gives closure, it reminds me from all difficult things can come amazing beauty.  

This is one of the many parts of the conversation, one best done far ahead of any crisis.  If it is in your heart to donate your organs or even your entire body upon your death, please register with the national organ donor program.  There are amazing abilities to use both tissue and organs to change the lives of others whom are suffering from disease.  Please have this conversation with your loved ones and register with the DMV or National Organ Donor Registry.   A Family understanding the wishes of a loved one to donate and perpetuate life makes a huge difference in the willingness to donate at the end of life, if we do not share this information with those we love then huge opportunities to do good can be lost.  

Do you know if those you love are organ donors?  Do you know their wishes?  What would you do if you were asked by a health care provider in the hours after losing someone you love to donate their organs?  I urge you to answer these questions, for yourself and for those close to you, communicate your own answers, learn the answer of ones you hold dear.

Understandably, many people have difficulty with the idea of organ donation – please know I respect people’s individual beliefs.  However, if you are unsure about your thoughts please research and understand the processes or ask me! 

For many people who find their lives ending in a case of multi-system illnesses, there is often still tissue that may be donated.  Alternatively, with the exception of several diseases, donation of the entire body to the field of science for such things as cadaver research or medical education is possible.  In these cases the body is sent after death to be appropriately utilized for academic purposes, depending on the chosen donation the body may or may not be returned to the family after a specified length of time.  Such donations must be detailed in a living will or advanced directive and often appropriate arrangements made with the affiliated organization prior to death.  

There are a host of opportunities, but without clear communication of your desires for donation  it becomes increasingly unlikely that your wishes will be honored.

So explore, learn, feel, and when you have decided what your true wish is, share it with those you love, that they might honor you as desired in life and in death.

Please find below a list of helpful links on this topic: