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Letter: Organ donation saves lives

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My knowledge of organ donation was nil until that fateful day in July 2006. That was the day the doctors at Innovis Health in Fargo declared my 42 year old son "brain dead," but instead of shutting down the machines it was disclosed that my son, Alec, wished to be a "donor."

From that moment on I have been tuned in and turned on to organ donation. It was a devastating experience to see my beautiful son in a coma and hooked up to all that paraphernalia.

My son was a mortician and funeral director and he and I had talked quite often about end of life issues, but, organ donation had never been discussed. I am so thankful that he had shared his wishes with his wife, Bea.

After the funeral and the initial shock of his death had abated, it came to me that it could be beneficial to others to be made aware of the process, plus any future progress in organ donation could be a memorial to my son.

Since then, I have become a volunteer with Lifesource and I have learned a lot more about the whole process. Not only can the major organs (heart, lungs, pancreas, liver, two kidneys) be used but also tissue of many kinds. These can be used in medical procedures of all kinds and also in research now and in the future.

I would hope that people reading this would not only put "donor" on their drivers license, but would also have an open and honest discussion about the topic with their loved ones.

In closing I would like to express my feelings. Even though it was painful to lose my beloved son, Alec, it was a great consolation to know that his organs have gone to help many recipients have a better quality of life. I know that his usable organs went to six people in several states. (Alec's lungs could not be used, he was a smoker).

In life, Alec was a very "giving" person and I will always hold him in my heart, not only as a wonderful child but also as a hero to his community.

NOTE: There are more than 100,000 people waiting for a life-saving transplant.

-- Marianne Burnside, Detroit Lakes

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