To the Point for 12/15/2005

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SOMETIMES YOU DON’T REALLY THINK about things until they affect you personally, but since we are now in the “season of giving”, the events of the past couple of weeks bring that into sharper focus.

Roger Marcum is a 49-year old man who spent time in the military before taking a job as a civilian employee of the military. He and his sons reside near Los Angeles, California, and in spite of some struggles — like all of us have — Roger Marcum has a pretty nice life.

Roger Marcum is my wife’s uncle, and over the past year we have seen him move from a happy-go-lucky sort of fellow to a man who is in a fight for his very life.

As I write this column, Roger Marcum is in the UCLA Medical Center awaiting a liver transplant that is needed to save his life.

He has been there for nearly two weeks now, having been moved to UCLA from another hospital in order to be closer if and when a donor liver is found.

At least three times in the past week, he has been prepped for surgery after being told that a liver was on the way — only to be disappointed by complications that neither he nor his doctors can control.

One was too small. Another was too fatty. A liver is not something that you can “rewire” and make it fit; and doctors at UCLA have told him that many times patients waiting on transplants are prepped over and over again for surgery before just the right organ is found at just the right time.

It is an emotional roller coaster that some members of our community have been on, but for most of us, we cannot imagine the ups and downs that those days bring.

As his family, we are also mindful of the “big picture” that surrounds the hunt for a donor liver. The reality is that the news that brings us joy and hope comes attached to a tragedy for another family. If a liver or other organ is available for donation and transplant, it means that some family somewhere has lost a loved one.

Through someone’s pain comes another’s hope. It’s a reality that causes people conflict, but you move forward.

This is a season of giving, and as hard as it may be for people to face, there is an overwhelming need for people to sign their organ donation cards on the backs of their driver’s licenses. Along with that, you need to talk with your family and make sure that they understand that this is something that you want, because ultimately they will make that final choice.

Granted, giving this topic some thought may seem rather creepy, but the truth is that you don’t need those organs anymore, and why not finish your life by providing someone else with the chance to extend theirs?

Who knows, maybe you’ll be the one on the receiving end one day. It brings the need into a very real light that we all need to think about.

Meanwhile, Roger Marcum and thousands of others lie in hospital beds and pray for your generosity and kindness. They are looking for hope in a sometimes hopeless situation — and we all need to understand that we are that hope.

It is the season of giving. Sign your donor card and acknowledge that you’re willing to give someone the greatest gift they’ll ever receive.

As a bumper sticker says: “Don’t take your organs to Heaven, because Heaven knows we need them here.”