Monday, October 31, 2016

The Gift of Life

As a pastor, I am often with families who are going through difficult times in their lives - many of them life-changing.  I pray and wish that I could do something to help allieviate the pain and suffering that they are experiencing.  I long to be able to turn back the clock and prevent a particular event from taking place.  I want to be able do something - anything to help.

In the past week, many of us have watched helplessly as Jessi-Ann's heart failed and she was placed on a machine to keep her heart beating.  We hold onto every bit of news that brings us hope as we wait to see what will happen.  We want to be able to help, to do something - anything to bring the healing and hope that we all long for.  Yet, we must live in the midst of the uncertainty and the waiting.

As one who has been by the bedside of a loved one, waiting and watching, often with uncertainty, it is difficult to tell others how they might help.  What we want the most is healing and renewed life and that rarely happens overnight.  It is not something we have to give to those who long for it.

Jessi-Ann's family has had numerous people ask how they might help.   And as I thought and prayed about what we could realistically do, I thought about Jessi-Ann and her life that she has lived with such abundance since her heart transplant.  She is more than just the receipient of a transplant but an advocate and support for others who are in need of a transplant themselves.  The gift of life that she was blessed to receive is a gift that she celebrates to its fullest.

Yet, New York state has the third-lowest donor registration rate in the country, but it’s ranked third-highest among all states by the number of residents in need of a transplant.

I believe that one of the greatest gifts that we can give is the gift of life.  I personally am blessed by the gift of life from a bi-lateral lung transplant that was given to my husband, Michael over 21 years ago.  We would've never met if that young man's family had not offered this gift in the midst of their own sorrow.  Jessi-Ann would not have had the life she's had thus far without that gift of life eight years ago.

While we may not be able to bring the quick healing for Jessi-Ann that we all pray and long for, we can honor her life and her love that has touched us all.  Think and pray about registering to be an organ donor (see the link below) or donate blood at an upcoming blood drive.  Talk to your family about your decision as they will likely to be the ones who will be faced by it.  Invite your friends and other family members to do the same (let's see if we can change those NYS statistics!)

As we have been blessed by the gift of Jessi-Ann's presence in our lives, let us promise to share the gift of our lives with others.

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