Private Practice

Someone should have warned me about the Private Practice episode this week … whoa.  If you aren’t a Private Practice watcher … one of the characters, Amelia, is pregnant with her deceased boyfriend’s baby.  She finds out that her son doesn’t have a brain.  He won’t live much more than a few hours after birth.  So she decides that she’s going to carry the baby to full term with the plan of donating her baby’s organs.  What you don’t find out until this episode is that she can’t technically donate them because she son will never be able to be declared brain-dead – he still has brain stem activity.  So she has to convince her doctor friends to harvest the organs.

Took me back to 355 days ago … when Doug and I were fighting so hard for Owen to donate his organs.  It was the only good thing that could come out of something so ugly.

Amelia said that she didn’t want to see or hear her baby – just take him away.  I remember my feelings as the time came closer and closer to Owen having the surgery, I wasn’t sure I wanted to hold my dead baby.  I didn’t it to erase all the memories I had of holding him alive.  As a true mother, she changed her mind in the last minute.  She looked at her baby, with no brain, and cried at how beautiful he was.  I still think that Owen was the most beautiful baby even when he was hooked up to all the machines, tubes all over the place.  He was still beautiful with his skin pale and cold.  There came a crucial moment when Amelia needed to decide if she was going to hold him until his last breath or if she would hand him over in hopes that he could still donate his organs.

I remember the entire walk down to the operating room.  I remember the elevator ride.  The way the temperature of the hallways were so much cooler when we got to the operating floor.  I remembering having to force myself to let go – to be ok.  It was now or never.  There was no turning back now.  I remember Doug’s eyes as he reassured me that it would be ok.  It was time.  I can still picture the swinging doors closing as they took Owen to his final place.  We stood with our pastor and watched as he was wheeled down the long hallway into the O.R. at the end of the hall.  I stood there for a long while – unable to move.  Un-wanting to move.  I wasn’t ready to leave his side yet.  But I had to be ok – I had to let go at that very moment.  There was no turning back.  I knew it was what I had to do – but I had all those feelings of not wanting to. Amelia’s moment of truth in this episode – man, I could relate.

It was choosing to let go because the good out weighed the bad.  Saving two lives was far more valuable than holding Owen until his body failed him.  What would have come of his death?  A good blog to read?  It had to be more.

What made me totally lose it was when they showed the organ harvesting.  Of course I know it’s Hollywood surgery but ti’s something that I’ve never pictured before.  The silver bowls and ice that they placed each tiny organ on.  How small each organ really was.  The child’s face on the body cut open.  Innocence being cut wide open.  I focused on the breathing tube.  The one tube that wasn’t able to be removed when I held Owen.  I received texts from our organ transplant coordinator as they harvested each organ.  But I could never really visualize it.  I had a storybook image – but nothing as real as this was.

I wouldn’t say what I was feeling was horrible … it wasn’t good either.  It was just a lot of emotion.  All at once.  Yes I cried – wailed even at some points.  I couldn’t breathe because my chest felt so tight.  But still I wouldn’t say it was horrible.  It was just a lot.  I welcome the pain.  I welcome the emotions.  I know I need to feel them to continue to heal.

I just wasn’t expecting to get all that out of a weeknight sitcom.  How many other donor mom’s out there were watching?  I hope it helped you to feel what you needed to feel.  I’m sorry it’s got to hurt so bad.  It sucks.  It really sucks.  But welcome the pain – embrace it.  It only hurts bad for the first little bit — then it turns into a reminder that you are real.  You are a mom.  You are an organ donor mom.

I just wish someone had told me before I watched it!  It caught me so off guard.  I would have had the tissues a little closer too …

Love, Mel


  1. I can not imagine the pain you experienced with your loss. I found your page through some triplet mom friends. I had 30 week triplets. I nearly lost one in her first week of life numerous times. And I have had to hand my little ones over to surgeons a total of six times praying they would come back each time. I can’t imaging handing them over knowing I wouldn’t get them back. You are so strong and brave. I have no idea how you survived this. Your blog means so much to me I find myself crying with you and laughing with you and sometimes just acknowledging that my house is crazy too. I think of you every single day. Thank you for being strong enough to donate and to share your life with a bunch of strangers.

  2. How touching.
    I am so sorry, I guess Private Practice could have gave a warning.
    I never thought about sit-coms actually hitting home with someone, but I can imagine how much emotions you were slammed with while the show rolled on. Grieving is such a hard process, and I personally would never know what it is like to lose a child, but I sat here crying reading over your post.

  3. Oh Mel….I just love you. You are as real and real can get. What an inspiration Owen’s story, your story, is to so many of us who are struggling (I’m now in the middle of my 5th miscarriage). You embrace life with the good, the bad, and the terrible horrible…and you still move on.

    I still get all sorts of inquiries about my “Owenge” shirt. People love it. People love your life and the story behind the neon t-shirt. I’m proud to tell it.

    My thoughts and prayers are continually with you.


  4. Was so thinking of you and your family and the decisions you had to make while watching that episode.

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