When we began bringing you our state fair experience virtually this year, we promised you 12 stories in 12 days. For this final story, I’m not going to focus on one in particular. Instead, I’d like to talk about our community of stories.
More people than each of us realizes has a connection to organ and tissue donation. One of the things about being at the fair is that fairgoers often come to our booth to tell us how they have been impacted by donation and transplantation. I’m not talking about one or two people – lots of people every day stop by to share their story.
One such interaction stands out in my mind. I was at the fair last Thursday morning when a woman walked by our booth. A volunteer from Mayo Clinic that was working with us asked her if she was an organ donor and she replied, “I will be on September 23rd.” Of course, our response was, “Really?!”
She went on to tell us that she had just found out the day before that she and her husband had been matched with another pair in an exchange program at the University of Minnesota. Since the two of them were not a match, she was donating her kidney to a stranger and another stranger was donating his/her kidney to her husband.
Just the day before, while his kids were playing our plinko game, a father shared that he had recently lost his father in June of this year. He’d had a stroke while in Las Vegas and in his death saved lives through donation.
Most of us probably don’t think about organ and tissue donation on a regular basis, or feel a sense of urgency in registering to be a donor. Why would we? We tend to think we’ll live forever and maintain our health, and spend our energy worrying about things that seem more pressing.
The challenge is, organ and tissue donation is a pressing issue that impacts thousands of people in our communities. In the past 21 years, LifeSource has supported more than 5,000 donors and their families. More than 2,800 people in the Upper Midwest are currently waiting for the transplant that will save their life. The stories we hear from fairgoers puts a face to these numbers.
And the stories we share via our volunteers and staff are intended to help encourage others to take action and register their decision to save lives. The final count isn’t in yet, but 12 days after we began we know that more Minnesotans are registered as organ and tissue donors. Often, it’s because of these stories.
I’ll leave you tonight with this short clip of two girls who registered to be donors at our booth. When Amber mentions “that nice man over there,” she’s talking about heart recipient and LifeSource volunteer Bill Carlson.