Friday, February 6, 2009

Organ Donation Letter

I was asked to speak briefly about our experience with organ donation at CMH today, but due to audit at work, had to decline. I did agree to write a letter which would be read at the ceremony to honor the work CMH does for Midwest Transplant Network and organ donation. As my letter is being read, pictures of Abby are being shown on the screen. Here is what my letter said...

To all the staff at Childrens Mercy Hospital~
Organ donation has always been something I felt strongly about. From the time I was 16, I made sure the back of my driver’s license was signed and told my parents that I wanted to donate if something should happen. After Marc and I were married, I let him know my wishes and we agreed that donation was something we would do for each other. We never could have imagined that it would be our little girl’s organs we would donate instead of one of ours.

Our story of donation is one of sudden tragedy. On March 29, 2007, while taking our girls to school, I was hit nearly head on by a driver impaired by alcohol. Abrielle, almost 4, was critically injured and was taken ahead of us to the hospital by ambulance. A second ambulance transported my older daughter Madyson, almost 7, and myself, 32 weeks pregnant, to the hospital as well. Upon arrival, I was told that Abby was responding well to all the tests for head trauma patients and was going to be transferred to Children’s Mercy Hospital. Marc, his Mom, and a friend, followed Abby. I had to stay behind to be treated for my injuries, to evaluate our unborn Elly, and to stay with Mady. It wasn’t long when I heard from Marc that Abby would be going in for surgery for a depressed skull and that she was very critical. It was at that moment my health no longer mattered to me - I had to get to my Abby. I signed out AMA (against medical advice) and my sister, my mom, and I raced to Children’s Mercy. Before I arrived, Marc had been given the news that the surgeons were not able to stop the bleeding; the damage to her brain was too severe. Upon my arrival, I was told our little girl was not going to survive her injuries. After a few moments of shock and disbelief, I asked, “Can she help someone else?” “Yes, she could,” was the response and that was all there was to the decision for us. We wanted our little girl’s death to bring life to another child, sparing their family our heartache. We knew Abrielle’s zest for life and her feisty spirit would carry through to the recipients, bringing them the strength needed. We were right. Abby’s liver was given to a little three year old boy, saving his life. He is no longer confined to a hospital bed, instead he is finally able to run and play like a normal little boy should. Abby’s kidneys were given to a young lady, saving her from the dialysis machine at last.

After the mind-numbing shock of losing our daughter wore off, the giving the gift of life brought not only tears to our eyes, but also smiles to our faces. Somehow, knowing a part of our Abby lives on, improving the life of someone else, brings a certain feeling of comfort. It is a comfort that brings about a sense of purpose from our tragedy; a comfort that someday we may meet these lives saved by our little girl.

Children’s Mercy was wonderful in facilitating our decision. Dane and Janie were there for comfort and support as we struggled to let our Abby go. There was never any pressure to give. It was our choice and the easiest one of the day; it was sending our Abrielle to Heaven that was hard. I tell people, for us, it was never a decision of if we would donate; it was just a matter of coming to terms with our loss before we could.


Brenda Neff
Abby's Mom

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