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Organ Donation – Pass It On

June 13, 2011

Leading Team Timmy in the NJ Sharing Network's first 5K fundraising walk on June 12, 2011 are Tim Eland Sr. of Robbinsville and Melany C. Eland of Port St. Lucie, Fla.

A year to the day when my 22-year-old nephew Timothy Eland Jr. passed away I had a dream that was so vivid I can retell it entirely today. He came to me to show me that life was moving on. He knew his sister was happy and having a good time with her boyfriend and friends on vacation. In a classic little brother style he was even being a little goofy about the story. Already a man in a tall slender body, tightened with outdoorsman-like muscles, he started sauntering along the side of his sister as they walked through a downtown carnival. He let me know that there would be big news on the way.

“Aunt Mary, where there is love life goes on. The tree of life goes on,” he said smiling. “Life is like a big old oak tree. We are all connected through this life. The branches are generations and families. The leaves are each of us.  One life touches another and influences yet another.  Through the years and generations we have the ability to love many people.  With love we continue to grow. Some branches break off and fall away, because they are not nurtured. Some are severed by accident.”

His point was well taken. We all have the ability to say that we have lived and our love ensures that life goes on.

A few months before Tim’s accident he made it known that should the unthinkable ever happen that he wanted to be an organ donor. He included his wishes on his New Jersey driver’s license. He didn’t hang on to things he didn’t need anymore. He generously gave things away. Organ donation was his last and greatest gift to guarantee that life goes on. With his decision, seven people continue living today.

For donor recipients the gift is an opportunity for tomorrow, something we tend to take for granted. More than 110,000 people are awaiting a life-saving transplant in the United States. Nearly 5,000 are our neighbors here in New Jersey. Unfortunately, an average of 18 people dies each day.  One donor typically saves the life of eight people and impacts the health of another 50.

Over the weekend I participated in the New Jersey Sharing Network Foundation’s Share NJ 5K Run to honor all those who gave, those who received, and those who continue to wait with hope.

You never forget where you were when you get tragic news. When you lose someone suddenly, especially someone young, the loss is so out of life’s natural order that grieving is harder.

Organ donation is a beautiful gift to make in your worst hour that helps someone else in their darkest hour.  A part of you lives on. It’s worth having a conversation with your family.

(The night before the walk, I was so deep in thought about my nephew that this poured out:)

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