July 4, 1987 – A young father, a young husband, and at 29 years old he was looking ahead to more time in Vancouver General Hospital. Not something he relished.
The phone rang after he arrived home from work, – 5 P.M.. The message was “Don’t Eat anything, Have a shower and come to the hospital as soon as possible. Surgery tonight.”
His feelings were mixed, excitement along with trepidation. The year before the call from the hospital in April had lead to months of disappointment and pain. Inside himself he wondered if he had the strength to try again. He wanted to try, the potential gain meant he had to.
6 P.M. – As they drove together to the hospital, his wonderful daughter stayed with her grandparents and his wife stayed positive while he shared his wishes, just in case, something happened and she was widowed. They were calm and realistic.
8:45 P.M. – Now he sat on his bed, the thick concrete walls of the old building, the green trees outside. A few minutes alone to stay positive and remember why he was there, sitting in a hospital gown, plain white cloth.
He had kidney disease, surviving on dialysis had had its moments and the restrictions on diet and time were hard on him and his family. Tonight after midnight, things might change for the better.
Work hardly entered his mind, someone would send them a message, his job would wait. He tried to slow his mind, be calm, just breathe.
12: 20 A.M. – The halls were silent, as he lay on the gurney, trundled down hallways, and up elevators and eventually he arrived in a hallway outside surgery.
He was outside surgery, laying on the gurney, waiting. He could see people milling around in gowns through the doors. Quickly they moved, precisely.
The surgeon stood beside him, they chatted briefly and he confirmed he was ready, his name and why he was there. Just before they entered the surgery, he asked that they pray together, and the surgeon was happy to take the moment to do so.
12:35 A.M – Nervous, hopeful, the last thing he remembered was being wheeled through the doors, and then the anesthetist asking him to count backwards from 100. His vision faded as he counted down about five numbers, and then just darkness, silence.
6:35 A.M. – he opened his eyes to a nurse asking him his name, and then he fell asleep. He could see two poles and tubes running from the poles to him. He was too tired to think what it meant.
That was Eleven Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifteen days ago (31 years) ago. I woke up and the surgery worked. I had received the gift of life, the gift of organ donation from someone and now I would live. I had a working kidney.
During the days ahead, I would celebrate the birth of a son, I would walk my daughter on her wedding day, I would look forward to holidays, and celebrations. I would work, and make memories.
Organ donation – register please, next it could be someone who means everything to you.
Eleven Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifteen days ago I got the call, and another chance. My donor I never knew, but I think of that person every day. Someone lost their life but their kidney lived on in me.
Thank you to my donor and to your family for your gift that day. It has meant everything.