We’ve been at this advocacy thing for a while now. Sure, we’ve moved the bar by an inch or so, but if we are to be honest, we thought that we’d be a lot farther by now. We thought that Jim’s story would have provided the proverbial kick in the pants that people seem to need in order to sign up to be organ donors. Looks like more is required, which is like our kick in the pants ricocheting off of others and kicking us back. What to do?
It would be easy to say that we’ve done as much as we can in this area, but we know that there are thousands on the waiting list today. We cannot and will not turn our backs on them and their families and friends. So, we’re gearing up for another kick at what has proved to be the most challenging and illogical conundrum. We’re looking at you – if you don’t know why you should sign up to be an organ donor, we’re going to tell you. If you need more than Jim’s story to motivate you, we’re going to tell more. If you need to be reminded that it could be you on the waiting list, we’ll let you know.
Three years ago we shared a message from Marah that was filled with desperation. Jim was very, very sick and a new heart seemed almost impossible. The message, on their 22nd wedding anniversary, went on to circle the world with almost 15,000 people sharing Marah’s anguished words.
Today, Jim and Marah are celebrating their 25th. To “celebrate” seems like such a little word, considering the path they’ve been on from despair to hope to life. Since April 30, 2015, the day Jim received his miracle of life, every milestone has become so much more meaningful. Jim and Marah are gratefully aware that on April 30, 2015, another family lost someone precious to them, and shared life with another. Celebrations like today’s will always include the family who made it possible.
Many happy returns of the day Marah and Jim – Happy Silver Anniversary! And many blessings to the family who gave the ultimate gift: life.
Be inspired. Be a donor. #jimshearts
We said good-bye to one of the loveliest men we’ve had the honour to know this week. Mr. Peter Karson passed away too soon at the age of 71, after a lengthy illness. His (very brave) daughter spoke at his funeral about his incredible determination, integrity and courage, but mostly she spoke of love. Love for his family, his sisters, his friends and his wife of 51 years, Dianna. It’s a wonderful tribute to a person that when looking back on a life well lived, we talk of love.
Mr. Karson’s legacy lives on in his children and his grand-children, but also in the two people who were given the gift of sight by his final act of generosity and love. Trillium Gift of Life confirmed with the family that Mr. Karson’s corneas were successfully transplanted to two individuals – an incredible gift from an incomparable man.
Our hearts go out to Dianna, Laurie, Chris and family.
You can be a donor. Live your life with love.
A few years ago (!) we posted about National Donor Day (US) being shared with Valentine’s Day. We thought it was pretty awesome then, and still think so! The gift of life that a donor gives to someone waiting for an organ transplant truly is a gift of love. We can’t think of anything more touching and amazing.
This Valentine’s Day, consider the ultimate gift by making your intentions known to those close to you, and by signing up to be a donor. (Outside Ontario: sign up here). Give the gift of love this Valentine’s Day.
#jimshearts #beadonor #nationaldonorday
A few people have shared with us France’s decision to make organ donation automatic. We’re impressed, for sure, but we also understand that this isn’t the fix to fix all problems.
It’s like our own Bill C-316, “An Act to amend the Canada Revenue Agency (organ donors)”, and give Canadians the opportunity on their annual tax return to indicate their desire to be added to their province or territory’s organ donor registry in a convenient, effective and efficient manner. (Yes, please do sign the petition). This Bill is super-awesome, but again, not the magic elixir.
Bottom line, these initiatives are fantastic in that they are moving the seemingly heavy yard stick of organ donation….but without EDUCATION, they both fall flat.
You see, without educating our population about organ donation, and the necessity to talk about your wishes with your family, things can still go awry. If your family is faced with the decision upon your death to donate your organs and they don’t know of your wishes (or at least understand the importance of organ donation and the gift of life) they can refuse to do so. Unfortunately this happens a lot.
Be the educator. Start at your kitchen table tonight – and we’ll go from there.
Ok. So we hadn’t really considered organ donation from this angle before, and now our minds are a bit blown. You know how we keep asking you to sign up to be a donor and to talk to your family about it? We had been thinking that your family could trump your wishes if they didn’t know your intention (or didn’t agree with it). And that is still true. The mind-blowing part is that this is only because of the sensitive nature of organ donation (not that this is a small thing)…..legally, you have consented to be an organ donor and this is binding.
Don’t get us wrong. We absolutely get it. When faced with the worst news of your life, no one wants to make things worse for you by pushing legal stuff on you. But this fact, that someone who has signed up to be an organ donor….has made a binding decision….can this be the basis of the change we need to see?
What if we elevated that act of signing up to be an organ donor to be the big deal it is meant to be? So this is the only decision? So when a family is faced with devastating news, the decision is simply understood?
Simple, it is not. But the possibilities this introduces are amazing. If you want to know more on this topic, check out this new article by Maeghan Toews and Timothy Caulfield. It has influenced us to reconsider how to push for change.
“Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone; But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on…” (James W. Foley) This poem, though written in 1911, could really have been written about Jim and Marah and their dedication to paying it forward through organ donation awareness-building.
Jim and Marah have allowed us to tell their story for well over two years. During this time we shared their hideous wait for a new heart, and the challenges (that still remain) in recovery after they received their miracle. Their willingness to share, to throw their pebble in, has touched almost 70,000 people through jimshearts.com and 500 people have specifically told us that they have signed up to be organ donors because of what they’ve learned. (We know there are more!).
Still, sometimes it does only feel like a ripple, because we know there are so many people waiting for their call and some who will wait too long and never receive their miracle. This frustration, together with the real trials of recovery are enough to make a person want to take their pebble and go home. Jim and Marah remain dedicated and as open and honest about their story as ever.
Thank you for sharing your story – you are making a difference!!
Be inspired. #beadonor #jimshearts
Every time we lose a friend to circumstances or disease we cannot overcome or control (we’re looking at you cancer), we pause. We pause because we are losing friends, fathers, mothers and children to something we absolutely have control over – death that can be prevented. People we all care about are dying because they are languishing on the organ donation waiting list. This is just so wrong and makes us sad, and yes, mad.
It is beyond our comprehension why this is an ongoing issue. When we die, we will give our organs to someone who can use them…..to live. Why doesn’t everyone have this plan?
You can make a difference for THOUSANDS of Canadians waiting for an organ donation. Right now, we’re trying to come to grips with what we cannot control. Organ donation doesn’t fall into this category. Sign up.
Guess what? The dismal state of organ donation is on you. More than 75% of you have not signed up to be an organ donor. What more do you need?
Yes we need education. Yes we need awareness building. Yes we need better collaboration across our provinces.
But seriously – you KNOW this is an issue. There isn’t a month that goes by that there isn’t a high-profile (or low-profile) story where someone needs an organ transplant. Why haven’t you done anything about it? Does it have to be a story where you are personally involved? That’s just ridiculous.
Here’s an example:
Not too long ago, the owner of the Ottawa Senators (Eugene Melnyk) shared his story of his journey for a liver transplant. It was big news! Even people who never read a newspaper heard about this. So why is Ottawa hovering around a 35% registration rate?
And another one:
In 2012, Hélène Campbell (of Ottawa) lived in Toronto while she waited for and recovered from her lung transplant. She brilliantly shared her poignant story. She was on Ellen for goodness sake! Why (oh why) is Toronto at a dismal 20% registration rate? You were hoping for Jimmy Fallon?
(Not to mention of course Jim’s story!!!)
We know that this is simplifying things (a lot) – but without you, there is no hope. You cannot pass the buck on to anyone else. Step up, and sign up.
For the too many people waiting on the organ transplant list all across our county and for everyone’s future: sign up to be an organ donor today in Ontario and across Canada.
It is on you. Whether you like it or not.
We’re not sure what we thought would happen when we started this blog two years ago. What did happen though, is that we’ve reached 68,000 people to spread the word about organ donation, written over 100 blog posts, met a lot of amazing people, and watched Jim and his family receive the gift of life.
What didn’t happen? We didn’t move the yardstick for organ donation registration very far. Over the last two years we’ve used words like “abysmal” and “embarrassing” – sadly, they are still true.
But do you know what else happened over the last two years? Over 500 people died while on the waiting list (that still has over 4500 Canadians on it). This is why we’ll keep at it and try to find new ways to inspire you to sign up to be a donor. If you’ve got a bright idea, please let us know.
By the way, if you are not in Ontario click here to find out how to sign up to be a donor in your province: https://www.blood.ca/en/organs-tissues/donating-future.
Be inspired by Jim’s story. #beadonor #jimshearts