The church I work at held a blood drive today. It’s been years since I last donated blood and I thought it was about time. I never expected it to bring back so many memories. Not memories of the last time I donated, but rather memories of Owen receiving blood while on life support. I had silent tears running down my cheeks from the moment I sat down in the little cubical. The guy probably thought I was a nut job.
He treated me just like any other regular donor. Inside I was wondering if he knew who I was. I mean, come on … I am the mother of an organ donor. Like the biggest of all donors … you don’t get more donor-y than giving your organs! He concentrated on the tablet in front of him, verifying my information. My account should be flagged or something, right? There should be something on his screen that would show him that I was a VIP … a first class donor. Giving my son’s organs makes me a gold card holder, right?
Shouldn’t I be getting first class treatment? Hot towels? Free glass of champagne? Be escorted into a special waiting lounge? Where were the fancy bags of pretzels? I wanted to ask him if he knew who I was … but he didn’t. I was just a normal donor like anyone else that walked through those doors.
What really made the tears flow, was when he brought over the bag and started scanning all the bar codes. I remember Owen’s nurse, Cindy, bringing in the same kid of bag and hooking it up to Owen’s IV. He received platelets a few times while on life support and did get a blood transfusion towards the very end. And here I was donating to fill the same kind of bag that might help someone else’s little baby boy. I’ll never know who or where my blood is given … but maybe another mom will have the same memories like I do. It sucks to know that another mom might need my blood for her child, but on the other hand, it’s comforting to know that I can help another mom sleep a little easier knowing that the medical care they need is available.
Dear Blood Center of Wisconsin, if you are reading this post – perhaps you’ll consider giving us donor mom’s a gold card for when we donate blood. I know I’m one of thousands … I’m no one special really. There are other mom’s out there who have given their baby’s organs and have never received the recognition that I have. It just doesn’t change the fact that I want the world to know that I have four sons – not three. I have a son that no one can see anymore. He lives on in more than just my heart – he lives in the eyes of his brothers, in the smile of Josie (who has his heart), in the prayers for the little girl in IL who was gifted his liver. He lives on in each of you who wear orange and remember him. I speak his name almost every day.
So why was it so hard to bring up Owen while donating blood today? Instead, I let the tears roll down my cheeks one at a time and gave my blood in silence. I listened to the woman, Trish, who was taking my blood. I made small talk; asking her how her day was and about her family. Turns out her mother-in-law passed away only a week and a half ago. She was her main caregiver and brought her home to die, in her own home. She held her mother-in-law’s hand while she took her last breath. Trish spoke the Lord’s name and said, “All I’ve ever wanted to be was a good servant. Just help wherever I am needed.” What a life moto. Just aim to help where you are needed.
I’m usually the one who has a crazy life story to share – one of life in the midst of death, hope and healing. I listened this time and God was there. Trish ministered to me.
The flashbacks I had today were unexpected. The tears still flow, three years later and I’m going to guess that they always will in some way. Losing a child isn’t something you ever really get over. But you can heal to a point where another person’s pain feels greater than your own. Trish’s grief was fresh and raw … it still stung with every hour that passed by. Proof that I am healing … day by day … and Trish will too. It all just takes time.
You sweet mother. You do deserve a gold card and so much more. This post touched my heart. I’m sending up prayers for you and your sweet Owen. God bless Mel.
On behalf of the lives saved through your son’s donation, we are truly grateful for the priceless gifts you have given to others. We are also happy to hear that you and Trish made a connection during your donation.
We can appreciate your desire to be recognized — your amazing gift was made selflessly so that other children could live — however, other donor moms or family members may not have the same desire. Some people find it too difficult to be acknowledged in this way. Out of respect for those who wish to remain anonymous, we do not share organ donor information with our blood donation center staff.
Please feel free to contact me personally if you would like to talk more about this.