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April 28, 2008 - Cindy Votruba
If you look at the front of my driver’s license, you’ll see the word “donor.” I haven’t always had the organ donation option marked; it’s only been in the last two years.
April is National Donate Life Month. It was established in 2003 encouraging people across the country to make an effort to celebrate those who have saved lives by becoming a donor.
More than 98,000 people are in need of an organ. Every day more than 75 people get the organ transplant they need, but more than 17 die because they did not receive an organ transplant.
My mother was one of those 98,000 who was in need of an organ transplant. Ten years ago, she suffered complete kidney failure. She was thisclose to dying if she hadn’t gotten put on dialysis right away. Mom had high blood pressure for years, and it more or less caught up with her.
Mom faithfully made the trip from Somerset, Wis. to Stillwater, Minn. three times a week for dialysis. She’d be hooked up next to people from all walks of life, from those who also had diabetes, a germaphobe she called “Mr. Clean,” to inmates from the prison near Bayport. Sometimes the entry hole in which the needle went in to clean her blood wouldn’t clot or stay closed, and she’d start to bleed. A lot. One time, paramedics did have to be called
Around 6 a.m. one Saturday morning in July 2006, my family got a phone call. My parents have Caller ID, so if they don’t know the number, they won’t pick up. This particular call was “Out of area.” My mom answered anyway. Good thing she did, as a kidney was available from Texas. A woman in her 40s had suffered a bad stroke and was basically brain dead. And it was a match. Mom had her surgery the next night.
Mom had become friends with those in the dialysis unit. When she finally had the ventilator tube taken out, one of the first phone calls she made on my brother’s cell phone was to all the dialysis patients who were there at the time. It’s been almost two years since Mom became a “little bit Texan.” She has more energy, continues to remain involved with friends, church activities and the Legion Auxiliary. She also monitors her vitals: blood pressure, temperature, weight. She also takes several pills a day, including anti-rejection meds.
I had lost my driver’s license some time after Mom’s surgery, so I went to the DMV to have it renewed. I have been hesitant about organ donation for years. My brother did it a long time ago. But this time, there was no hesitation, I marked donor on the form. To learn more about organ donation, visit the Web site: www.organdonor.gov.
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