Webster's dictionary defines the word "selfish" as "Selfish adj.: overly concerned with one's own interests etc. and having little concern for others."
After being sick for several months in 2008 and being in and out of hospitals with no answers and having an incident where I almost crashed our car on our way to church one Sunday morning, we went to Dublin Methodist Hospital where they told me my blood ammonia level was too high. They prescribed a medicine for me to take care of the problem.The reason I give this meaning is because this is how I felt on Jan. 5, 2009, after being told by my doctor that I needed a liver transplant. Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you a little piece of my story first.
A few months later, my wife and I were at our daughter and son-in-law's house in Columbia, S.C. for Christmas and my ammonia levels went up again. I didn't know who anyone was, where I was, or how I got where I was. The ammonia level caused my brain to cloud up. It was like blacking out in little spells. Why did this do this again? I learned a valuable lesson; always take your medication! After being admitted to a hospital in Columbia, they were able to stabilize me.
We came back to Marion just after New Year's and I had a doctor's appointment a few days later, for a routine check-up. I told her of my latest episode, she reviewed my history and told us that in her opinion, I needed to be tested for a liver transplant.
This is where I began to feel selfish. You see, prior to this time when asked at the BMV if I wanted to be an organ tissue donor upon my death, I had always said no. I always thought that if the good Lord gave them to me he wanted me to bring them back to him.
How could I be so selfish? Here, I need a transplant to keep me alive and to have to wait on someone else's generosity to get it, but, if I were to die and someone needed something of mine, they wouldn't get it because I was a selfish person. Talk about sobering - I had never felt so bad in all my life.
Well, it didn't take me long to get a brochure from Lifeline of Ohio to register to be an organ and tissue donor upon my death. I filled it out and sent it in immediately so when something does happen to me, someone will get a second chance at life like I did. I received my second chance at life on June 23, 2009.
My wife and I are now ambassadors for Lifeline of Ohio and we go to different events and tell my story so that people will know that organ and tissue donation is important. I know it is to me; I am so grateful to my donor and it will always be a very important part of me.
I learned, not too long after my transplant, of someone who was not selfish at all, in fact, he was selfless. I don't know his name but all I know is that he had a massive stroke. When he went to the BMV he didn't think of his own interest; he thought about others. He said yes to organ and tissue donation and gave me a second chance at life. He will always be my hero.
As I write this letter, there are 106,807 people waiting on some kind of transplant. The number of transplants done in the U.S. last year was 28,464. Every day 18 people die waiting on a transplant. So as you can see, the people waiting on transplants far outnumber the transplants done last year. Let's bring it into more local terms. There are approximately 500 central Ohioans waiting on a transplant right now and every 48 hours one Ohioan dies waiting to get a transplant. These are very staggering figures. But you can help make a difference by registering to be an organ donor and upon your death, you to can be a hero.
Here's how you can register: 1. At the BMV, simply say yes when asked if you wish to be a donor; 2. Go to LifelineofOhio.org click on the register now button (have your driver's license or state ID handy) and simply follow the directions; 3. Get a brochure from Lifeline of Ohio to mail in your registration. It's that easy for you to be a hero to someone and do the most selfless act anyone can do for someone else.
April is Donate Life Month. At 7 p.m. Sunday there will be a candlelight vigil on the Statehouse lawn in Columbus. We will be trying to set the Guinness World Record for the most candles lit simultaneously in a single venue. Please come and be a part of history as we break this record. Details can be found atwww.lifelineofohio.org.
I leave you with this anonymous saying that sums up the power of donation. "To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world."
Jim Eckard is a LIfeline Ohio Ambassador and lives in Marion.