Guest post by Cheryl Parish, mother of the Global Game Changers April Superhero of the Month, Anna Parish. If you would like to learn more about Anna, go here or check out her page at the GGC website.
Most of us go through life feeling invincible, feeling more highs than lows because most of the time the happy moments outweigh the sad. A dear friend once told me that it seemed I had a charmed life. And that was my life for the most part until the day that our second daughter, Anna, was diagnosed with a disease called Biliary Atresia. This disease was believed to have been caused by a virus that would change our family’s lives forever. We were told that the only cure was a liver transplant. A transplant ? This was a topic that never really crossed my mind, I had never known anyone to have a transplant. I had been asked to be an organ donor when I got my driver’s license, not ever really thinking about what it meant because, honestly, I was invincible!!!! So why become an organ donor? Or then again why not become one?
Obviously, I am very passionate about organ donation because it has affected someone I love. After years of living with Anna’s illness, becoming informed about her condition, and learning about the organ donor process, it hit me that one of the possible reasons that there is a shortage of organ donors in the US, is because there are so many people in the world like I was. People who were not against organ donation but people who just do not take the time to sign up. People who are educated but oblivious to the subject of transplants and shortage of organs. People who would never have tragedy strike, people who were invincible.
In a perfect world the US should adopt the OPT-OUT system that is in place in so many other countries. Most people say they would be a donor, but do not take the time to register. If we had an OPT-OUT system I know that we would have a much higher rate of donors because those same people who did not take the time to register, would not take the time to opt out.
So many people are unaware that there are over 120,000 Americans on the wait list in need of an organ. This crisis is growing in the US because there are only about 30,000 transplants being performed per year. And so many times I have asked why ? My personal answer is really pretty simple: Organ donation is not a medical crisis, it is a social crisis. Doctors know how to perform transplants, there are just not enough organs to perform the surgeries. An average of 19 people die each day while waiting for a viable organ. This could all change if people would make the decision to become a registered donor.
When we got the call, on May 18th, that an organ was available for Anna, my husband & I were out of town on a trip with his company. We had let our guard down thinking that the call was never going to come because Anna had been on the wait list for 3 years. As we were flying home to meet her at the hospital, I looked out into the horizon and all I could see was hope for Anna; although I was scared out of my wits, I was hopeful. And on the flip side I was unbelievably sad because our gain was someone else’s loss. I did not know anything about her donor but I did know that another family had lost hope & that was heartbreaking. I could not fathom the pain that an unknown family was going through at that moment. The one and only thing that I did know about that family is how selfless they were. Through tragedy they made a decision to save someone else’s life.
Anna has had a really rough year. It has been a roller coaster for our entire family. But one thing that has always been a constant is hope for the future and thanks to her unknown donor. I am so proud of Anna for wanting to pay her gift forward by raising money through walks, swimming, school education programs, and speaking about her story. She has been given a second chance at life & now she wants to help others get that chance by using her talents to promote Organ Donation. I am thrilled that she has become involved with Global Game Changers. It is an honor for her to be associated with Igniting Good! Everyone has the power to make a difference for good in the world, they just need to find their passion & put their talents to work.
I hope that through Anna’s story it will prompt more people to sign up through their state’s registry to become organ donors. We all want to live happy, long, healthy lives but if one day we find out that we are not invincible……… the decision to become a registered organ donor could save a life.
Want to know how your child can become the next Global Game Changers Superhero of the Month? Visit here.