I’ve always been an organ donor. Maybe not always, but for sure since the time I got my driver’s license when I turned sixteen. I remember the sour lady behind the desk at the Department of Public Safety in Victoria asking me, “Do you want to be an organ donor?”
(You’ve got to say it like the character from Roz in Monsters, Inc. to get the full effect.)
“Yes,” I said, before I gave myself any time to think about it. As I looked at the “Y” next to “Organ Donor” on my paper license, my first thought was, “Won’t my parents be surprised if I die?”
(I’ve always had a little bit of oppositional defiant disorder. It’s just who I am.)
I decided I better tell my parents so that if I did die, they wouldn’t have that shocker on top of the obvious one of me being dead. Turns out, they were both organ donors, too. None of us had ever really talked about it. Maybe my mom and dad had talked to each other, but certainly not to me or my siblings. It just makes sense because you can’t take your organs with you. If everybody who could donate their organs would, there would be no shortage of organs and no waiting lists. And when I found out that one person can save up to eight lives? I signed up here at http://www.donatelifetexas.org just to be sure I wouldn’t fall through any proverbial cracks.
What does Colman know?
That’s a question I get a lot from family and friends, and the answer is extremely simple and unbelievably complicated all rolled into one. Colman knows everything.
I don’t know if that’s the best way, but it’s my way.
Colman’s known since he was little that he has a special heart. When he was only six or seven, he would try to pin our pediatric cardiologist down on how long his half a heart could last to which our doctor would reply, “Oh, I’m hoping we get a good fifteen to twenty-plus years out of this heart.”
Now that we’re at this juncture, we know that’s probably not happening. Kevin, Colman and I go to TCH on Thursday to begin the transplant evaluation process, which will involve the talk, the consents and blood and tissue matching to check antibodies. Then we’ll head back for a marathon three days of appointments and tests January 6, 7 & 8.
Colman knows if he gets listed for a heart transplant, that the heart he receives will come from a child. When we had that discussion about where the heart comes from, he asked, “Mama, does the heart have to come from another kid?”
“Yes,” I said, watching his big blue eyes fill up with tears. “I wish there was another way, but there’s not. The heart has to come from a kid that’s about the same size as you.”
“That makes me sad,” he said, rubbing the tears out of his eyes.
“It makes me sad, too. But we’re not hoping that someone dies so you can get your new heart. We’re hoping that if the unthinkable happens to another child, that their family will make the tough decision to help other children by donating their organs. Do you understand the difference?”
“Yes.” Then he said, “Wait! So all this time, you’ve been telling me that you’re going to take me to Houston to get me a new heart, you’re really taking me to Houston to get me a used heart?”
“Let’s call it pre-owned,” I said. “That just sounds better.”