Lots of stuff to tell you about these days, starting with a huge thanks to David at the Minnesota American Liver Foundation for giving me the opportunity to speak for a couple of minutes in front of a few dozen hepatologists and other liver-related physicians at an event for the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease. It went well, and a few of the docs stopped by afterwards to take my card, ask me more, and make helpful suggestions. Russ Wiesner, a prominent gastroenerologist and past president of UNOS, challenged me on the issue of paying organ donors. (Initially, I think, he misunderstood the Greatest Gift Foundation's mission and thought that I was promoting the idea of paid donation, which is categorically not so. At a minimum, we agreed that health care coverage for donors would be a reasonable step to take.) But it was fun having the debate with him and learning more about his insights on the best solutions to the organ shortage, which appear to be more about changing the structure and politics of the UNOS system than about reaching potential donors, living or dead.
Cara Mastrey, the sister of rock DJ Tawn Mastrey, introduced herself to say she too is launching a foundation in memory of her sister, who passed away in October, a casualty of hepatitis C and the infuriating lack of available donor organs.
But still, the highlight of the night for me may have been my conversation with a nurse who ushered me into the hallway to talk about her grand neice, who needs an organ, and her struggles with the decision of whether to be tested to donate in case she was needed. I learned something new about myself and my foundation after that conversation. The fundraising, the public speaking, the PR -- it's not that I'm not good at them or don't enjoy them -- it's just that what really energizes me is the actual service, making the connections and digging in to support people who are going through this. It's the work that pumps the energy through my veins. I can't wait to get started.
Oh, and the Jingle Jangleis cooking, and we can't wait to see as many of you as possible at the big event!
In January 2006 I successfully donated half my liver to my brother, Joe. This blog began in November 2005, when I was just a hopeful donor candidate, and continues today as a vehicle for sharing my experience and building community among past, current, and would-be live organ donors and transplant recipients. Thank you for stopping by. All content on this blog, including images and text unless otherwise cited, is copyright (c) 2005-2007, Becky Waller. All rights reserved.
In 2007 I founded the Greatest Gift Foundation, which provides information and support to living organ donors throughout their transplant experience. I'm in Minneapolis, when I'm not traveling the country meeting with transplant teams. Contact us at email@example.com.