OP-ED: THE IDLE AMERICAN- Donor Alert: A sliver of liver

Published 12:59 am Sunday, December 27, 2020

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Don Newbury

I have never read columns as entertaining as those penned by the late Erma Bombeck, who survived by cancer surgery, only to be claimed by kidney disease at age 69. Her battle was valiant as she underwent five years of dialysis before ultimately failing to survive transplant surgery that came too late. (Never mind she refused to be moved up on the list, instead insisting on waiting her turn.)

She was magical in finding “household humor” despite dealing daily with realities that were decidedly “unfunny.” Here’s one example:  Chances of inheriting polycystic kidney disease–one that she dealt with for 50 years–is 50%. Two of her three children have it, too, and have been beneficiaries of advanced treatment options to lead productive lives.

Anyways, learning recently of thousands of people waiting for organ donors–or, in the case of liver disease, “just a sliver”–should be a great concern to  all of us, particularly in this season where “giving” comes up in many conversations. Millions are praying, but too often their prayers are for “me and mine.” They should include “thee and thine,” if we truly are our brothers’ (and sisters’) keepers.

Two examples are cited. One is a 33-year-old mom in an adjacent state needing a liver transplant within 90 days.  She has had health issues most of her life, but she and her hubby became foster parents four years ago. They are now parents to three sons, four years of age and younger. In her case, a “liver sliver” will do, depending on donor’s age, weight, blood type and pre-existing conditions. Such a donor must have insurance, but all related expenses will be paid. And the sliver grows into an organ!

The other example suffers from primary sclerosing cholangitis, a disease that destroys the liver; she has been dealing with it for a decade, and the need is now critical. Like the other patient mentioned, a live donor is needed. There’s a current campaign which can save the life of this young lady, herself a giver. She’s song leader at her church, and recently drove a friend from Virginia to Oregon to begin a new job there.

A website provides answers for folks who have questions about how they can help—aliverfordallas.com.  Also, Hopkinsmedicine.org provides sobering statistics, including the fact that 17,500 folks are on liver waiting lists, with fewer than 400 getting livers from live donors each year. Some 1,700 die annually while waiting.

We can provide a personal testimony on “just because” kind of generosity, and fully endorse a slogan used by some charity: “Don’t give ‘til it hurts; give ‘til it feels good!”

In August, a pulmonary embolism claimed the life of Julie Choate, our 50-year-old daughter who gave 29 years of her life to education, including the past decade in administration. A few years ago, she and others in our family decided to offer organs for transplant in the event of death. “No one will want my eyes,” she laughed, remembering that she began wearing glasses in the early grades.

A few weeks ago, we learned that two blind adults now have sight because the lenses of her eyes worked!

A while back, someone mentioned this being a terrible time for the meek to inherit the earth.

It’s a planet of billions of hurting people, many near death, many destitute and many facing utter hopelessness, unable to make it on their own.

Thankfully, there are many who can help.  Maybe folks reading now will choose to do so, or at least discuss these needs with others who might. Long ago, we heard a preacher challenge: “If not you, who? If not here, where? If not, now, when?”

We plead for a Christian response.

Anyone can be a pessimist, like the guy who insists that at the end of the light, there’s a tunnel.

Let’s think GIVING in 2021!

    Dr. Newbury is a former educator who writes weekly and is a longtime public speaker. Comments/speaking inquiries to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook: don newbury