Friday, July 6, 2007

Giving the Gift of life.

I haven't blogged a lot in the past week. I've come down with a nasty cold, I've been stressed about getting manuscripts out the door, and I've been dealing with the lost of our dear friend and fellow cyclist. The former has gotten me thinking a lot about organ donation, and how circumstances in my life in the past year keep bringing me back to it.

I have had 4 major circumstances in my life that keeps my mind coming back to organ donation. In my research, I study the use of a drug called rapamycin (also known as Rapamune). This drug is licensed for use in transplant patients, and is an anti-rejection drug. This drug also has anti-cancer activities, which is why I've been using it. Most of the great findings I have had in my postdoctoral studies have revolved around this drug. It is in using this drug that I got to know the lab next door, the lab of Dr. Bob Zhong. He worked in transplantation for most of his scientific career, and although I was not close to him, every interaction I had with him was positive. He always had time to chat about what you were doing, and when you passed him in the hall, he always had a smile. It is ironic that just as I was finishing up my first manuscript on my rapamycin work, he passed away from lung cancer. I dedicated that manuscript to his memory. He has been missed.

My friend's death this week is the obvious third connection. He had received an organ (his heart) and when it failed this past week, he donated his organs. This full circle moment is so typically him. He will be missed in such a profound way in our cycling group, that I'm not sure any of us truly realize that his is gone yet. Maybe in a lot of ways he is not, because he has passed on his helpful spirit and unfailing optimism to us. I know that the next time I'm struggling, I will hear him as I did at my last race saying "Come on Marianne, you're looking great!!".

The last connection is by far the closest to me. Almost a year ago, my cousin and his wife had baby Cameron. Cameron had an inauspicious entry into the world several months early, weighing in at only 3.5 pounds. As with most preemies, he had complications. His was an infection in his bowels that necessitated removal of over 60% of it. Over several surgeries he has beaten his slim odds, and pulled through every time. He is truly a miracle child. However, it was determined that he will need a bowel (and possibly liver) transplant. He is currently waiting. In the meantime, he continues to beat the odds, and is currently on drugs that have been helping him considerably. But he will not be leaving the hospital where he has spent his entire young life unless someone who will face the unimaginable (the death of a child) will give Cam the gift of life. I pray for him and his family. This is a pic of us in May...

So, all this has gotten me thinking. What can I do? I can urge everyone to consider giving this gift. Please sign your donor cards, and make your decision known to your family, as they will ultimately be responsible for ensuring your wishes are respected. Please think about it.

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