Waiting in line. We all hate it.
Like when you really want your morning coffee from Tim’s and the line is really long. But we wait because we really want it. And it feels like forever. Well, that’s how it feels waiting for a kidney.
Only a million times worse. Waiting each day for a call that there might be a kidney match. That your whole life can change because that one person, with the perfect matching kidney, decided to be an organ donor.
I’ve been waiting three and a half years for a kidney (but I have been doing dialysis for 16 years). I’ve had four people test to be living kidney donors for me that were my blood type, blood type ‘0.’
They couldn’t give to me because antibodies I carry would attack the kidney. I am a hard match. Only matching 10 percent of the population.
I have also been waiting on the deceased donor list for a kidney. In the three and a half years I have been waiting, I have not received one phone call with a potential donor for me. This is again because I do not match many people but it is also because of the lack of donors in Manitoba.
I believe there are a number of reasons for our poor response to organ donation.
First, most people believe in organ donation and they are willing to be organ donors, but they don’t actually go and sign up with the Sign Up For Life website (signupforlife.ca).
Signing the back of your health card is still a great thing to do, but signing up at the website is the easiest and fastest way to access your wishes when the time comes. I strongly encourage everyone to take a few minutes and do this. All that is needed is your health card.
Another reason most people have not become donors is because they have not truly been touched by this. They have not experienced the trauma or desperation of needing an organ, or no one in their lives has experienced it.
When you have not seen this first-hand it makes it harder to explain the severity of the whole thing. Even me. If my whole life had not been affected by this I would be totally uneducated about people waiting for life saving organs. That is why it is so important for me to spread the word.
I have encountered a lot of people while volunteering at different venues with Sign Up For Life. It is so depressing when people just walk by and don’t care. There are some people that won’t even consider being donors because they are terrified of the thought of dying. I can understand this.
No one really wants to think about that. We all truly believe we will be here forever. But the fact is we won’t be. I like to look at it like this: you’re gone, you won’t know, so why not help someone else live on? And in a way, you get to live on too.
I am not here to pressure anyone into doing something they aren’t sure about. I am here to help everyone see what a need there is for organs and encourage everyone to take a few minutes and go to the signupforlife website and become a donor.
Spread the word to friends and family. And in the future there may not be a wait list. It would be nice to imagine a world where people would not have to suffer because of a failed organ.
Until then I will just keep patiently waiting.
Jennifer Laferriere is a community correspondent for Garden City. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.