Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Beginning

We all make choices. That's what life is all about; every day we make choices. Some, well most, are relatively simple. Starbucks or Tim Horton's? Elevator or stairs? Which earrings go with this sweater?
Every once in awhile we are presented with choices that seem bigger than ourselves. They take a lot of time to figure out and even when we do, we may not always be able to explain why we made them.
When I was little I used to sit and read the Toronto Star from cover to cover on Saturdays whenever I could. I'd read the columns, the sports, the current events and the editorial page. Its likely a large reason why I know so many random things now as an adult. Anyway I remember one Saturday when I was around 10, I read the story of a little boy from Hamilton Ontario. The details now are fuzzy but he had been riding in the backseat of his parents car. When they turned a corner somehow the door opened and because he did not have a seatbelt on, he fell out and sustained serious head injuries. Unfortunately he could not be saved and he was declared brain dead. His parents, in the midst of what I can only imagine was horrific guilt and despair, made a choice. They opted to donate his organs. In doing so they helped save several other children and adults.
I don't know why his story stuck with me so many years. Maybe it was because I was a child myself. Maybe it was the science that intrigued me. Whatever it was, I have thought of that boy off and on whenever I hear of someone in need of a transplant. There was something about his story that made me want to help people the way his parents had. I made everyone I knew aware that if ever in the same position, I would want to give my organs.

Fast forward 25 years. Science has moved ahead. We can now donate some organs without having to be brain dead. Living Donors are becoming common for liver and kidney transplants. What is even more amazing is that not only are people starting to give to help loved ones in need, but some people are making the choice to give to total strangers. Just because they can.

And this is where I am. I have been seriously considering donating a kidney to a total stranger. It's one of those big life choices, bigger than me. I haven't told anyone yet. I started to once but stopped at the first sign of the "Are you nuts!?!?!" face that I inevitably will see more of, if I move ahead with this choice. All I know is that I feel like I am at the start of a journey to somewhere and whatever choice I end up making, I'll be the better for even having considered the options.

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