I’m a person of service. It’s not something I brag about but what I do I do very well and I’m extremely proud of. It’s also something I never would’ve shared with my followers/fans mainly out of fear of rejection. But what I learned at a recent symposium I attended touched my heart and made so much sense to me that I felt I had to share this new knowledge with as many people as possible.
For many of you, you know me as the designer for Villain Accessories, but I am also a licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer for the state of California. For over 14 years I’ve worked with people during their most challenging times: taking care of their loved ones when they no longer can and helping them to celebrate and honor those who have gone before them.
Up until yesterday I never really understood the benefits of organ and tissue donation. As an embalmer, it was nothing but a pain. It caused daily delays. Yes, donating “saved lives,” but to be honest that phrase really didn’t mean anything to me. I had no personal experience of anyone in my life benefiting from tissue or organ donation.
I will not share the messy details about tissue and organ donation, because you don’t need to know them, but what I will share are some facts that both touched me and amazed me enough to write this post:
When you donate your organs you could save the lives of 8 people. And when you donate your tissue you can save and heal another 50 people.
- Stem cells collected in tissue donation can be used to help a body produce its own insulin improving the quality of life for diabetics.
Donating your heart valves saves not just stroke and heart attack victims but the lives of children under the age of 15, as their still developing bodies will reject a synthetic/man made or animal valve. While I’m not yet a parent I can only imagine the suffering and heartache involved in having your child be on that list.
- Tissue donated can also be used in a mastectomy and it will actually become muscle as it is accepted into the body.
- Vertebrae and Spine collected in tissue donation can also be used to help quadriplegics and paraplegics become ambulatory.
- Tissue/Organ donation and age is not an issue. Though there are several donations that do have an age maximum of 85 years, there are many donation options that are not age restricted.
Many of us have read books like Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach that share the “truth” about body donation no matter how disturbing it may seem. I feel these books focus on the sensational aspects because people are riveted or horrified and sensationalism sells. I’m not judging, I own copies of these books. But what amazes me is that there are so many different things that organ and tissue donation can do to help and heal and provide for, for people, but it’s not “sexy”.
As an embalmer I can promise you that tissue and organ donation doesn’t mean you can’t have a traditional funeral. It doesn’t mean you can’t have an unorthodox funeral, or for that matter a cremation. But it does mean a better quality of life for that child born with a cleft palate/chin. It means sight for those who are visually impaired. It does mean someone’s child gets to grow up to be an adult. Or that person suffering from a decubitus ulcer (bed sore) can heal faster with less chances of infection.
What I’m asking you to do is to take the time to investigate tissue and organ donation. Even if you choose not to donate, educate yourself, discuss the options with your loved ones, your children, your co-workers, heck even people in line at the post office (because there is always a line at the post office). By sharing the knowledge you’ve learned you can influence someone else to save and/or heal up to 58 people and be a person of service yourself.
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