Got spare parts?TAMMY FRANCOIS: The way I see it, I have one too many kidneys, too much liver and pancreas and maybe even an extra lung, so just after Thanksgiving I called the University of Minnesota to let them know I was willing to give away some of my spare parts.
By: Tammy Francois, for the Budgeteer
The way I see it, I have one too many kidneys, too much liver and pancreas and maybe even an extra lung, so just after Thanksgiving I called the University of Minnesota to let them know I was willing to give away some of my spare parts. Okay, the way it actually happened was that I read about a woman who has been waiting for a kidney donation for a long time. She is a young woman with children who just wants to raise her kids and see her grandkids, just like many of the rest of us. Her story touched me. I knew I had to make that call.
I have been so fortunate in my life. I have five children. I have watched my kids grow from sweet pink babies to sticky mischievous toddlers straight through to sassy teenagers. I’ve watched them learn hard lessons and seen their triumphs. I've been so proud of them and grateful to be their parent. Now I have two grandbabes who make me wonder what I ever did to deserve such blessings. When I thought about that woman, that waiting woman, I understood what she wanted and I wanted her to have that chance, the same chance I had.
The process of becoming a donor is really simple and the U of M has one of the best transplant facilities anywhere, with extremely high success rates for transplant recipients and donors. Part of the reason is that potential donors are run through a battery of tests to ensure that they are healthy and unlikely to develop complications during or after donation. I also found out that the donor bears none of the cost of the screening or transplant. The tests, hospital, surgery, transportation, any lodging needed, and medications are all covered. All I have to do is show up!
It turns out that the hard part is talking about living organ-donation with friends and family. My kids were okay with it. I don't think anything I do would surprise them anymore, but other folks thought that I should hold onto my organs in case someone in my own family needed a spare part. You know, there's really nothing that separates us as humans—not family of origin, ethnicity, class, religion. Those are all artificial dividing lines. We're all in this together. It doesn't make sense to put off doing something now on the off chance that a disaster occurs in the future. If that were my thinking, I would never leave the house, because each one of us has a 1-in-67 chance of being killed in a car wreck in our lifetime.
The other side of that coin is that 18 people WILL die every day because there aren't enough organ donors. That's a pretty grim statistic, considering the numbers of people who could be donors at little or no risk to their own lives.
In my case, I had a particular recipient in mind, but after typing and cross matching it turned out that my kidney would not work out. I had never met the potential recipient, but I felt sad.
Frankly, I am hoping that those who read this will realize, like I did, that they have an extra kidney they’re not using and decide to see if it can be of use to someone who is waiting for one. Let’s start something here in Minnesota! We’re already one of the leading states in terms of volunteerism. Why couldn’t we become the state with the most organ donors??
Eventually a match will be found so I can give away some of my spare parts. I’m looking forward to adding another scar to my collection and having some really cool stories to tell the grandkids. I’m also looking forward to knowing that someone else gets to live long enough to tell some cool stories to his or her grandkids because they got the liver, kidney, pancreas they needed.
April is organ donor awareness month. Can you, will you, be a donor? Just call the U of M Transplant Center and get some information and think about it: (612) 625-5115 or (800) 328-5465.
Tammy François is an older-than-average college student living in Morgan Park.