Children, especially if they’re healthy, often don’t understand the lives of unhealthy children and adults. They live free from the difficulties associated with repeated doctor’s visits, chronic pain or other physical ailments. Donate Life Month gives parents the opportunity to share lessons of compassion and gratitude while children learn about organ donation.
According to donatelife.net, more than 110,000 men, women and children need an organ, tissue or cornea transplant in the United States alone. Without medical intervention, these patients face physical discomfort, intense pain and possible death. Modern medicine allows surgeons to harvest healthy kidneys, livers, eyes or tissue and transplant the donated organs into the body of an ill person. These procedures give the recipients a second chance at life.
Sharing organ donation facts with your children and teaching them about the donation procedure can help you both learn about the process. Organ and tissue donors undergo extensive testing to ensure they’re a match. Their blood type needs to match that of the recipient, and they must pass a medical exam and other medical tests to ensure that they’re healthy enough to donate successfully. If a family member or stranger needs a transplant, you can volunteer. People interested in a kidney transplant to help a loved one should know that they can live a healthy life with one kidney.
Parents teach their children to take care of their family members. Share this transplant story to help your children understand the sacrifice family members make for each other. Nine-year-old Raphael needed a new kidney in order to stay alive. His body’s immune system attacked his liver and kidneys, which made him very sick. Three surgeries and additional medical treatments didn’t help. His dad decided to donate a kidney and save his son’s life. Raphael is now an active, healthy boy, able to participate in normal activities like school and sports because of his father’s selfless sacrifice.
Sometimes, strangers generously volunteer to offer the gift of life. When Bobbie Davis heard about Lisa and Kerry Keck, she knew she needed to do something to help. The Kecks suffer from kidney failure and live on dialysis, which bypasses their kidneys to clean their blood of waste. Ms. Davis decided that she could live with one kidney, and offered to become a donor. Lavon and Steve Keitel also volunteered to donate kidneys; the couple heard a sermon in church about helping others and decided that they could help. While Lisa and Kerry still wait for their new kidney, they feel hopeful and grateful at the outpouring of support they have received from complete strangers. If the volunteers are a match, the Kecks will receive new kidneys.
With these examples, you can use Donate Life Month to teach your children about generosity and compassion. You already teach your kids to be kind to their friends, but loving a stranger goes above and beyond the normal actions of humanity. These organ donor examples and similar stories from donors around the globe offer your children insight into selfless sacrifice. Every day, generous organ and tissue donors see a need and fulfill it without complaint. Their selflessness and compassion models the true purpose of Donate Life Month and provides you and your children with a teachable moment and an opportunity to be grateful for good health.
Cover image by Jeffrey Beall via Flickr.