I decided to get out of the house today and get some things from Target. While in the picture frame aisle I got a call from Annette our Donor Network Coordinator. I was happy to hear from her as the two little girls have weighed heavily on my mind these last few days. After she made sure it was an ok time to talk (as if her calling wasn’t the highlight of my day! Next to my lunch company of course), I took a deep breath, why was she calling me?
Then the sentence … I wanted to call you and let you know before you got your letter in the mail. Ugh the sick feeling in my stomach. What went wrong? Was it his heart or his liver? Please tell me not both. Just tell me and get it over with. Rip the band-aid off. The little girl who received Owen’s liver was doing great … then she started to deteriorate. She was put back on the liver transplant list and she just received another liver. My gut was twisted … Owen’s gift had failed. A piece of him died again. I fought through the feeling and forced myself to thank the heavens that the little girl was still alive.
I had thought (and accepted) that his gift would be his liver but really he gave the gift of time. The little girl would have died if it weren’t for Owen’s gift. She still lives.
What happens to a “bad” liver? Is there a Goodwill for failed organs? Compost pile? One of those garbage cans with the foot pedal that opens the lid?
Part of me wants his liver back. If the little girl can’t use it, maybe someone else could. I feel like I should bury it, like a dead pet or a time capsule. It was apart of Owen, and I want it back. If it could save a girl’s life, then of course have it! But it doesn’t live within her anymore. It was tossed away, broken. Like a item you lend to a friend. If it can be of use to you, please use it as long as you like. But when you’re done, I’d like it back.
I have to absorb the news. I find that I need to grieve the loss of his liver, almost more than him. He died, again. He was supposed to live on. A girl’s blood flow through his liver. This was the hope that I was living in. This was the happiness I chose to believe in rather than let his death cripple me. This was my crutch and it’s fallen out from beneath me. Am I strong enough to walk without it?
After Annette shared this news with me I thought “well I guess we won’t be meeting that family.” Why would the family even care to meet us anymore? For us, it’s been the ‘happy’ event on the horizon. Meeting the donor recipient families. Now? Owen’s gift won’t mean as much to the receiving family as the actual liver within their daughter. Another dream I had for Owen, slipped through my fingers.
My mom asked me, “What would you do if you were in the other family’s shoes? Would you still want to meet you?” At first I didn’t know … I felt like I would be so overwhelmed and connected to the family of the actual organ. But then I thought back to Owen’s story. A NICU nurse, who worked on Owen the night it all happened, came through the line at the funeral. She was so upset and just kept repeating how sorry she was; she thought she was going to save him. She wished she could have done more. My response? But you DID help me! You gave him time. The very same word … all those that worked on Owen that night gave Owen the same gift that he gave another little girl. They gave him a chance. The little girl would have died without Owen’s liver. She didn’t have time to wait for another.
If Owen had died that night, and his heart never started beating on its own, he never would have been able to donate his heart, liver and kidneys. If not for the paramedics and nurses that night, he would have been just another baby who died in his crib. But he is Owen, the little warrior, the color orange. He’s so much more.
But will the family see life the same as I do? Perhaps they will. In the event that they don’t, then what? Be patient and know that I am God. Breath. One step at a time. It’s not something that I can control, so I need to let it go. I will have my answer soon, and there won’t be much I’ll be able to do about it. Breathe.
What did this do to the other family’s story? What have they been through the past three weeks? Transplant, rejection, another transplant. I have to keep praying for the strength to believe that He sees the greater picture. God knows what good will come of this and the meaning. My job is to believe, be patient, be still. Breathe.
While my heart is a little heavier today, I inhale hope for peace and I exhale my worry and questions. In with the good, out with the bad. Breathe. In … out … in … out …