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Consider being an organ donor

Dear Editor,

On Jan. 10, 2010, my husband died from cardiac arrest in the emergency room at Hartselle Medical Center. Because his driver’s license indicated that he was an organ donor, I received a call from the Alabama Organ Center in Birmingham and was given information I was completely unaware of. I had thought that organ donation referred only to things like the heart, liver, and lungs. The center’s representative explained that if the family consented to donating the entire body, much more of it could be used to help others and for research. I allowed my children to make that decision, and they chose to, feeling that would have been their father’s wish. The representative expressed much appreciation, and after my answering a series of questions, said, “You just don’t know how many people will benefit.” Bill had already requested to be cremated, so she also told me that once all of the usable parts were harvested, the center would cremate the remains at no cost and deliver the ashes to me, which they did soon thereafter.

Several weeks later, I received a letter from the Eye Foundation saying that two people had received transplants. Shortly after that, a letter from the Alabama Organ Center explained that over a hundred people had benefitted from Bill’s body. Yet the most touching news came last month. I received a letter from a young woman who is a teacher, which caught my attention since Bill was once a teacher himself. She said she had suffered from leg problems all her life and had gotten to the point that she could hardly walk due to constant pain. As a result of our donation, though, she was able to have surgery to repair and strengthen her leg bones, enabling her to continue her work with children and lead an active life with her family. She ended her letter, “I will think of you and your loved one everyday for the rest of my life.”

I wanted to share our story so that, if faced with this decision, others would know how beneficial a full body donation can be. If you are interested, contact the Alabama Donor Center in Birmingham, Alabama. (205-731-9200).

Jo Ann Camp