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Yes, this is one of those posts where you reflect on ‘life’ and how precious it is.  Today was a weird day for me because of two things that caused me pause.  Allow me a little history…

Just over 5 years ago now I received a call that my father was in the hospital as a result of a massive heart attack and was unconscious.  Those are things you never want to hear…ever.  Needless to say it was going to get worse.  In fact my father was in immediate need of a heart transplant to live.  In the interim, they would equip him with an artificial heart.  Sounds logical right?  Unfortunately, ‘artificial hear’ in my father’s situation (due to his body size, chest cavity, etc.) translated to a massive piece of equipment.  Literally my father was hooked up to a pressure device that was on wheels and was about the size of a machine washer.  He had these HUGE tubes connected into his chest and external pumps that served as ventricles.  EVERYTHING was external to his body – yes you could see blood pumping in and out…it was disgusting and amazing at the same time.

After about 7 months of this and a false start on a heart transplant we got the call that a heart was coming and it was local (a donated heart has about a 4hr ideal life span to transplantation).  Hours of surgery later my father had a new heart.  It was a long road to recovery but he is alive today with a donor heart.  My family is eternally grateful for this gift.  My children would have not known their grandfather otherwise (my wife was 9months pregnant when this was all happening).

Fast-forward 5 years later.  Today we received a letter from a woman we’d never met.  It was the mother of the donor heart.  My own heart sank as she wrote this letter on father’s day.  She wrote how she had hoped we were able to benefit as she has felt this long for some time.  We had suspected the identity of the donor heart immediately as on the day my father received his, there was a terrible murder in a neighboring city of a young man.  To this day we suspected it was his heart.  Today we received confirmation of such.  To protect his identity I am not revealing details but that isn’t the point anyway.  My father lives today as a result of one man’s unfortunately loss of life and his remarkable decision to be an organ donor.  This letter from the family is a reminder of what a remarkable miracle happened to my father. 

The second thing today that made me slow down is a funeral my wife and I attended.  For the past 6 years we had known an individual and her daughter.  She was from Mexico and trying to make a better life for her and her daughter.  Her daughter meant everything to her.  Last week she was struck by a car and a week later died as a result of head injuries.  She was 16.  We attended her funeral today and it was amazingly sad to see a family have to bury such a young life.  Our friend was overwhelmingly saddened as you could imagine.  Our hearts were broken as we know how much her daughter meant to her…how much she shaped her life around her daughter and made every decision to better their lives together.

What I forgot to mention is the 16 year old girl donated her heart (received by a 12 year old boy in WA), lungs (60 year old woman in WA), liver (8 year old and 68 year old), pancreas (50 year old) and kidneys (unknown).  What a great gift on such a tragedy.  Donate Life.

So, I guess here’s where the “count your many blessings” part comes in.  Cliche?  Who cares.  I came home and hugged my kids.

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