Tracy Lee Curtis

Organ donation – the gift that really keeps on giving

If you didn’t get your shopping done Black Friday weekend, then your holiday shopping season is upon you. Thankfully, my family always draws names. So I only have to find the perfect gift for one person.

Which is gonna be tough this year. The bar was set pretty high and early on. My sister just gave my mother a kidney. I know it’s not a competition, but I don’t think anybody’s gonna be able to top that.

This all happened a few weeks ago, when Mom declined into stage 5 renal failure. After 14 years of battling lupus, her kidneys were failing, and the only solutions were a kidney transplant or dialysis.

“What’s your blood type?” Mom texted. Oh, is this what we’re doing now? We’re giving each other kidneys? I’m all for sharing, my sisters and I borrow each other’s clothes – the rule being if somebody uses it more than you, they get to keep it. But organ swapping? I think we’re all using our kidneys at the moment.

This is where you hope you have an excited volunteer. Who’s a match. Which my sister was. I can’t be sure she knew I would be giving the person I drew a cashmere scarf, but she had to know she’d have us all beat in the gift department. Talk about giving a gift that somebody actually needs.

There are plenty of people like my mom. Nearly 124,000 people are waiting for organ transplants, while millions of people die each year without signing up to be an organ donor. I’m one of those people who’s not signed up – which is crazy considering my mother needed a kidney, my nephew was born with only half of his heart, and my sister lost her spleen in a car accident.

But I had no idea that one organ donor has the potential to save up to eight lives. Someone sent me the story of college student Matthew Heisler, an organ donor who died in a fire and whose organs helped as many as 60 people. His heart went to a man who’d been waiting for three years. That was such a gift to Matthew’s parents, who were able to meet the recipient and hear their son’s heart beat once again.

Kind of changes my perspective when I see people lined up for the Xbox One and the “Frozen” doll. This year all I see are those 124,000 people waiting in line for the thing they want most.

I’m still getting the scarf. It’s a good gift. But I registered to be an organ donor, and so I know my more useful gifts will be given a little later. I’m so glad my sister gave my mother this lifesaving organ – although we hadn’t even drawn names yet. And technically, I think it’s a regift.

I’m just kind of glad I drew Dad.

(For more information on organ donation: