Today is my Birthday!
It’s a somewhat bittersweet day for me, because it’s my sister, Cindy’s, Birthday as well…but she isn’t here to celebrate with me.
When I was told I was chosen to be highlighted on the FiftyLives blog this month, I couldn’t overlook the “coincidence”, and I am pleased to be able to tell “our” story.
My name is Mary Beth, and I’m a Registered Nurse. I’ve been a Certified Procurement Transplant Coordinator since 1991. I began my work in Organ and Tissue Donation in September of 1989; a year and 9 months after my sister, Cindy’s, death.
We grew up in Ohio where you used to indicate your wishes to be a donor with a heart sticker on your license. Cindy and I talked about how we liked the idea of helping others after we were gone…and vowed that we “would ALWAYS celebrate our birthday together, even when we were old and 40!”
At the time of Cindy’s accident, and death, no one asked us about organ, or tissue, or eye donation because they thought it would intrude on our grief.
And I didn’t think of it until it was too late.
When I applied for the Transplant Coordinator position with Life Connection of Ohio in Toledo, it was easy to answer the question as to “why I wanted this job”?
I’m passionate in the belief that if a family is not offered the opportunity to donate, the decision NOT to donate has been made for them. My desire is to help individuals understand the importance of offering donation to donor families following the death of a loved one and become comfortable with “Asking”. I want everyone to understand the magnitude of organ, eye and tissue donation and how to register to become a donor.
I’ve learned through working with so many families to understand the value of being “present” with someone in their grief — their need for comfort, support and caring by simply “being there” provides them.
I’ve had the honor, and privilege, over these many years to be witness to the extraordinary valor and generosity of Donor Families: these individuals who’ve been able to set aside the most unbearable despair and pain at the time of the death of their loved one, and yet choose to help others through organ, eye and tissue donation.
I have also witnessed the hope and healing giving the gift of donation has brought to these grieving families, knowing their loved one is remembered, and has made a difference in the life of another.
I have shared too, the joy of recipients and their families who have received the gift of donation, and a chance for life, or a better quality of life.
I am sincerely grateful to be part of Community Tissue Services (CTS), a quality organization, with exceptional individuals, who respect and honor the gift of donation while offering hope and healing to both Donor Families and Recipients.
CTS helps provide lifesaving skin grafts to aid burn patients; tendons and bone grafts enable recipients to walk, run, bike, skip, ski, jump, golf, sail, hike, dance, hug, hold a child and live their days with a little less pain.
When you share your birthday, you always give a gift to someone else on your birthday.
Through my work with CTS, I’m part of a team that gives the gift of life, hope and healing to others each and every day!
Today, on our Birthday, I celebrate Cindy…Happy Birthday, my dear sister.
You are forever a part of who I am and what I do. I love and miss you!!!