Two years ago today a stranger saved my Mum’s life. While my family and 5 other families like ours across Ireland celebrated the arrival of a life-changing organ, TW’s family planned a funeral and a life without their beloved sister and daughter.
TW wasn’t her real name. I’ll never know her name or be able to thank her family in person. I could probably pass her mother on the street and not know it.
TW are the initials of a place in England, and the setting for one of her poems, which her family sent in a letter. My mother wrote to them through the hospital (which vets and addresses the letter to make sure everyone is kept anonymous, like a well-meaning North Korea). She thanked them for the gift of a new kidney, for respecting their daughter’s wishes even though it must have been immensely difficult. She commiserated with them on their loss.
They responded the best way they could, by sharing something beautiful created by their daughter.
We don’t hear about the human side of organ donation a lot. Some of us carry cards or tick a little box on our driver’s license. We hear statistics. It’s all very clinical. The next time you hear someone doubting whether they should donate their organs, tell them that it gives them a unique power. In death, they save lives. Few of us get to do that. It’s a pretty good note to go out on.