An Organ Donor Saved My Mom’s Life

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Bride with mother on iPad
The bride with her mother, who was unable to attend her daughter’s wedding as she waited for an organ donor. Photo by Kelly Applegate Photography.

February 14 is National Donor Day, which is an extremely significant day for my family because it honors organ donors.

Over a decade ago, my mother became very sick. Her health deteriorated slowly at first, but then she was suddenly walking around with an oxygen tank, struggling to breathe. 

In June 2014, she checked into the hospital. Days later, she was #1 nationally on the lung transplant list. Despite all of this, I was naively hopeful that my mom would be able to leave the hospital for a few hours on June 21 to see me get married. 

However, my mom called me from the hospital a few days before the wedding. Her doctors would not let her attend because she wasn’t healthy enough. It was too risky. She had to keep up the little strength she had left as she waited for the interminable wait for a healthy lung. 

As my father walked me down the aisle to be married, my mother lay in a hospital bed hooked up to an oxygen tank, weeks away from death, waiting for an organ donor. She watched me say my vows on a tiny iPad screen, the only consolation we could think of at the time. We worried that if we delayed our wedding, she wouldn’t live long enough to see me get married at all. About a month after my husband and I were married, the most horrible and wonderful event occurred. 

Horrible: Somewhere in the country, a young man named Nick died. 

Wonderful: His lung was a match for my mom. 

My mother underwent lung transplant surgery before dawn on July 18, 2014. It was just in time to save her life. Almost ten years later, my mother is a loving grandmother of five. She and my father enjoy their retired life together. My mother still has to be very careful about her health. My dad is her loyal caregiver as she takes daily medications, lung treatments, and frequent hospital visits. 

But she’s here. She’s alive. She knows and loves her grandchildren, and they adore her. This is all because of a young man who made a choice at his local BMV. Maybe it was a carefully thought-out decision. Perhaps he just checked “yes” in a hurry, eager to finish his appointment and get on with his day. 

Whatever the reason, because Nick chose to be an organ donor, he saved my mother’s life. If you are already an organ donor, thank you. 

If you’re not already a donor, I urge you to look into it so that the next time you renew your license, you can say yes to being an organ donor. This seemingly small action could one day save someone’s life. 

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