It’s Friday morning and I just took the dog to the dog park. Our morning ritual. Coffee and open emails. Sounds pretty normal. However, for me it is a series of requests for assistance from donor families that I can not assist right now. We are out of funding.
I started our donor assistant program two years ago. After years of assisting transplant families the circle of life just did not seem complete to me. Here we have families whose loved ones save lives and they can’t afford to even cremation costs.
A donor saved my life. A donor enabled me to watch my 11year old daughter grow into a beautiful amazing young woman. A donor family gave me the ability to reinvent myself and start a non -profit focused on assisting patients on their transplant journey. A donor family gave me the strength to enable hundreds of families to pay for post -transplant housing and get put on the transplant list. A donor family can save up to 8 lives with organ donation and a donor can save even more lives with eye and tissue donation. Yet many of theses families can not bury or cremate their loved ones due to their financial situation,
I received a call one day from a mother of four children in downtown LA. Her husband had passed away and she was a single hard- working mother of four. Her eldest son was 17 and a straight A student. He would be the first in their family to go to college, He was shoot in the head, wrong place wrong time. He was by his own choice an organ donor. He saved 6 lives. She called crying for assistance to have him cremated. We spoke for a while and I realized how unjust this was. So began the very small start of our donor assist program. We are not paying for organs but assisting the family after the donation is made.
It is against the law to pay for organs. I totally understand that. The organ procurement agencies —the ones who actually get the organs and deal with the hospitals, are not allowed by law to financially assist theses families. One Legacy, our organ procurement agency in California and the surrounding area has wonderful events and programs for these families and grief counseling, the run walk, the rose parade float and many more. However, by law they can not assist these families financially.
It was my great fortune to meet an amazing woman whose heart felt as mine did about these families, saving lives at the most difficult time. She wanted to help and she did. With her assistance we were able to assist over 40 families with cremation and or burial expenses. Since March of this past year I have been able to open my email and say yes to these requests from our donor families. Today I can’t say yes. I am out of funds for this program. Today I can only cry with these families, with the sister whose brother died in a car crash and saved 7 lives, with daughter whose mother saved three lives, with the mother whose 4 year -old saved five lives. with the husband whose wife saved 5 lives. I can go on and on.
We need your help. Organ donors are HEROES. They save lives everyday.