Christmas is about giving. Yet, so much of this gift-giving time of year centres on material possessions. But there is one gift far more valuable than anything sold in stores, as you’re about to read.
Imagine the scenario where a young girl is struck with an incurable heart condition and is living on borrowed time. It could be only a matter of weeks before her heart stops beating. Late at night, well passed midnight, the phone rings. Normally, her parents would be angry about such a disturbance, but they’d hadn’t fallen asleep yet because they were worried and in agony. The voice says that there’s been a terrible car accident, but one of the victims was an organ donor, “Be at the hospital in one hour.”
The parents feel a fury of emotion. Joy and relief, but also stress and apprehension. What if the surgery isn’t successful? They rouse their daughter and walk to the car. The parents feel like running to the vehicle, but they’ve been sternly warned that their child must never exert herself due to her weak heart.
In the confusion and panic of the moment, the father accidentally puts the car in reverse, but quickly corrects his mistake. His mouth is dry and his heart is racing as he suddenly becomes aware of the pressure on him to drive safely to the hospital. The mother fastens her daughter’s seat belt and comforts the child who is crying because of the thought of yet another trip to a big, scary hospital.
The family arrives under the canopy sheltering the doors to the emergency room where a nurse is waiting with a wheelchair. “There isn’t much time,” she says. The mother begins to cry when she sees large, warm tears stream down her daughter’s red cheeks, “Mommy! I don’t want to go.” The nurse feels terrible as she cuts the good-bye off and spins the wheelchair towards the operating room leaving the parents alone and grief stricken.
A doctor comes to explain the procedure, but they can’t hear what he’s saying. They don’t notice they’ve asked the same questions several times. The couple pace for hours in the waiting room. They try to sleep, but can’t. They try to eat, but aren’t able. They try to cry, but the tears have vanished.
Just before noon, the surgeon approaches them. His steps are tentative. He seems unsure. “I’d like to have a moment with you.” There is a heavy silence. The father wants to grab him by the throat and yell, “Just tell us what happened, damn it!”
“There were some,” the surgeon swallows loudly and hesitates, “complications.” The mother feels a crushing sadness in the core of her chest. The surgeon scans the parents‘ eyes as if looking for the courage he needs to continue, “It was a difficult surgery, but we think your daughter has a chance to live.” The surgeon tries to smile, but it seems forced. The mother and father thank him before he leaves them alone to comfort each other from the hours of agony.
When they see their daughter in the recovery room, they notice how pale her cheeks are. She seems frail, too frail to hug, but at least now she has a chance to live.
And she does live. And she has the life her parents always thought she should have.
In the week that followed the surgery, the couple laid flowers on the grave of the young car accident victim. They would return every year.
As we see in this example, a total stranger comes to the rescue of the little girl. While this was a fictious case of life or death, organ donation stories similar to this one happen everyday and many of us know people who received “the call” just as these parents did.
The most precious gift is life. This holiday season, take the time to consider signing an organ donour card.
NEWS PHOTO DOMINIQUE LIBOIRON
As much as we all enjoy seeing lots of gifts under the Christmas tree with our name on them, the true spirit of the season is in giving. There’s one gift we can give above all others, but we rarely think of it during the holidays.