April is organ donation month across the nation. The month set aside for us to consider the option of “checking the box” on our driver’s license in the event something happened to end your life early. This includes precious organs, tissues, morrow, and blood donation. It’s also a month we celebrate those that have given so freely of themselves so that others can live!
November 1, 2014, our family experienced this firsthand as Randy Berndt’s early life came to an end and 62 other lives were impacted with the generous donation of his kidneys, liver, lung, eyes, tissue, bones, morrow, and heart, given to research.
I wonder about the life of the 56-year-old female who had been waiting for 3 years….17 days for a new liver! And how about the 38-year-old woman who had been waiting for 5 years….312 days for a new kidney, can you imagine her new possibilities and freedom of life. Or the 54-year-old man who had been waiting for 8 years…2 days for a miracle in his life. Or the lung, the healthy, vibrant organ that Randy loved some much for his running and walking our dog, Max. The 67-year-old waiting for almost a year for a lung.
To feel that fresh air in lungs again, in lungs that have been diseased for years and on transplant list of almost a year … just to breath on his own … just to live. A prayer answered!
An excerpt from my book, “Finding Norm … Rediscovering Joy Through a Season of Loss“.
My secret dream and prayer? To connect with Randy’s organ transplant benefactors. Early on, I wrote a letter to each. describing the amazing man who gifted their chance at new lives. I continue to acknowledge their yearly anniversaries with notes of encouragement and well wishes. This was my way to ask, plead, pray that I received letters in return – wanting to learn about the changes they experienced since being freed from their prior limitations.
Four years later, letters each year and ….. nothing.
One bright day, I parked my Acadia in the garage and, with purse and backpack in hand, strolled to the boulevard for the mail. Bills, usual junk mail all filled my hands. But then, I spotted a letter. It was an oversized envelope and immediately I recognized the logo.
LifeSource! This is odd, I thought. Typically their letters, solicitations, and invitations were compact or small. Curious, I rushed back to the garage, tossed aside the extra mail, and slit open the envelope. Pulled out the letter – along with a legal-sized envelope hand-addressed to Jana.
Without bothering to read the cover letter first, I ripped open the second envelope. A hand-written note from one of the kidney recipients. My heart skipped a beat and my hands trembled as I sank onto the step, eyes racing down the ordinary, college-ruled paper.
A male recipient … lived and worked on a small farm his entire life … looking forward to retiring to his lake home …. northern Minnesota … He filled in other details about his life, but it was the closing signature that caught and held my attention. He signed his name: Randy
“This Randy lives on because of your Randy’s gift of life,” he added.
Emotion, tears of joy, tears of sadness, and an unexplainable connection with my husband Randy and this new Randy. His life lived on through another living body. Amazing … a miracle.
So I leave this with you … have you checked the box? Have you considered leaving a legacy and gift to others? Impacting, living change, and so selfless!
My box is checked,