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They Died A Hero

Even though I had come to a place of peace with the fact that I was going to have a heart transplant.  I still had one nagging thought that kept popping back up in my mind as I waited in the hospital.  This nagging thought was that I was waiting for someone to die.  In order for my life to be saved, someone else had to die.  I had heard this story before in a different context.  God sent his one and only son into the world not to condemn the world, but to save it.  The way that Jesus saved the world is that he willingly gave up his life, died on the cross, so that all people could have forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  This is the gospel, the good news of Jesus.

Well, at some point there was going to be someone who was going to die.  For that person they had made a conscious decision, probably years before, to become an organ donor.  That decision might not have seemed like a big decision for them at the time.  Perhaps they were sixteen years old, excited to get a license and they simply checked the organ donor box thinking that it was the nice thing to do?  Maybe they had a family member that had been saved through an organ donation, so the decision to become an organ donor was a way for them to pay it forward?  I might never know the reason, but this precious person’s decision, on whatever day it was made and under whatever circumstance it was made, saved my life.

Again, even though I had come to a place of peace with the fact that I was going to have a heart transplant.  I had moments when I struggled with the reality of the death of another human being.  That was until one day when I was doing my laps around the Cardiac Critical Care Unit, like I did as many times as I could during each day.  I had to be accompanied by a nurse on these walks, so not only did I enjoy physical exercise, I enjoyed the social engagement of conversation with another human being.  On one day I was feeling quite emotional about the fact that someone had to die in order for me to live.  Days and days of pondering this reality and in one morning walk around the unit, one nurse was able to change my perspective.

I shared my struggle and then she asked me this question: “Are you an organ donor?”  I said “Yes”.  She then asked me: “So, if something tragic happened in your life and you died, you would be up in heaven really ticked off that your bodily organs were used to save other people’s lives?”  I quickly said “No”.  And then it hit me.  Yes, I mourn for my donor and for their family, but they made a conscious decision to be an organ donor.  Their death, as sad as it is, will be the beginning of life for me and for anyone else that was blessed by their other organ donations.  In essence, my new life is a tribute to their life and their conscious decision to be a blessing, even beyond the grave.  My organ donor, regardless of the life they lived before they died, in my book, died a hero.  They gave the greatest gift that could ever be given and little piece of them will live in me until that day comes when the Lord calls me home.

Everything that I do.  Everything that I accomplish.  All that my life is going to be is now and forever will be a part of my organ donor’s story.  My prayer from the moment I woke up from the surgery has been “accept this heart”.  I have a new heart, but that new heart will always have a connection with the one it had been originally created.  A piece of them is living inside of me and for that I am eternally grateful.  I am hoping that someday I will be able to know who my organ donor was, to know their story and even possibly meet their family.  Yet, whether that day comes or not, I have the heart of a hero beating in my chest.  I promise to do everything, in my power, to honor that gift by living a life worthy of the one who created my new heart and the one who gave it to me.