I wish I could tell my Dad a Happy Father’s Day, but he lives in heaven now and is in a much better place.
(Photo taken by me when I was about 9 or 10 years old. He was teaching me about photography.)
I got a lot of traits from my Dad. He was talkative, stubborn, never met a stranger, fun, a Mac nerd, loved photography and ran his own small businesses. I sure wish he was here because he would have been commenting on my blog everyday, been our biggest I Heart Faces fan, entering each week’s photo challenges and Fix-it Friday. Heck, he would have been emailing and commenting to EVERYONE in our social networks that we would have probably had to ban him!
Most of all I wish he was here to see his grandkids. I know they would have loved to have had Grandpa Ted around.
When I was 12, my Dad was on a list waiting for a new heart or else he would die. This was a long and hard wait, because organ donation was pretty much unheard of back then. He was only 45 and it was hard to believe my normally larger than life Dad was so frail and sick. I remember the exciting evening he got the call that they had a heart and an ambulance was on the way to pick us up… the heart would be at the hospital when we got there!! We made phone calls and then had enough time to get ourselves together by the time the ambulance arrived. I rode in the front seat of the ambulance, not knowing what was going to happen. This could be the night by dad lived or died. It was exciting because I was 12 and going really fast in the ambulance! But it was also such a scary time.
Once at the hospital, we weren’t sure where to go… imagine you had just been visiting with family expecting to die and now you might live!! We were all a little frazzled, but my Dad was very excited and found directions on where to go, practically yelling at anyone in his path… “I’m here for a new heart!!”. Little did we know, we had arrived before the heart, so we had some down time, just enough to get scared all over again!
Dad was taken to a small room and we all huddled around him to give kisses and hugs, not knowing if we would see him again. Then he was off to be prepped while we prayed and waited for the heart. Waiting for a heart just seemed so weird! Who’s heart was it? What had happened? Who was the family who donated such a precious gift? Would it all go well?
Then I heard the words “It’s here!” I stepped out of the waiting room to see the surgeon doing a very fast walk down the hallway with a small cooler in his hand. WOW! It was time! After this, my 12 year old brain is a blur. Everything went great and Dad was okay! We got to see him the next day and I think he actually came home in record time after less than a week. I think he was the 36th person to have a heart transplant at Barnes Hospital, where now they have performed over 500 heart transplants. Just a week or two after returning home, he was doing wheelies on his motorcycle! He was given 5 years to live. He lived an extra 10… seeing me graduate from high school and college, getting to meet my future husband, enjoying his step-grandchildren and going on many trips with his family.
I don’t know who donated his heart, all I know is that he was a 35 year old competitive cyclist who was hit by a car while training for a race. I’m so thankful for his family for donating his organs. Who knows how many other lives they saved as well?
Each day, about 77 people receive organ transplants, but 19 people die each day waiting for transplants that can’t take place because of the shortage of donated organs.
Each organ and tissue donor saves or improves the lives of as many as 50 people. Giving the “Gift of Life” may lighten the grief of the donor’s own family. Many donor families say that knowing other lives have been saved helps them cope with their tragic loss.
Click here to learn more about how to become an organ donor in your state. All you do is fill out a quick online form and they will mail you a card. Or download these Printable Donor Cards and put one in your wallet.