Explorations by Kenley Neufeld

The Courage of Parents

By on August 1, 2008

Can you imagine being together as a family and your 7-year old son complains about a headache and three minutes later is unconscious and being rushed to the hospital due to a stroke? This is exactly what happened to some friends of ours less than two weeks ago. The life of this boy continues in others now, and I want to share this message of courage and compassion by his parents, even with death.

My partner spent Tuesday and Wednesday with our friends and their young son. This family has given a great gift to the world despite their great suffering. On Thursday morning around 6:00am (Pacific), this young boy was taken into surgery to have 8 of his internal organs removed. Each of these organs were placed into another person (all but pancreas and small bowel were successful).

Though he went brain dead on Sunday, the parents have stayed with him in the hospital for four more days while the transplant team sought donor recipients. This type of courage and compassion is inspiring. My partner said to me more than once that he looked like a little Buddha laying in the hospital bed. Our friends will certainly have some tough days ahead of them, but if the last week has been any indication of their commitment and their caliber as human beings, then they will be fine. Please send your love and support to them.

I know what a gift that has been given. My mom died 10 years ago as she awaited a new liver. I remember well the moment we received a call that a liver was available and then finding out a few hours later the family had changed their mind. When a family is waiting for a transplant, it is like waiting on pins and needles with a hope that something will become available to save a life.

For me, there are two messages in this story. First and foremost, love your children as if today is the last day of their lives. Be present. Secondly, become an organ donor. Remember this young boy and how he has touched, and possibly given the gift of life, to six other people.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, 99,505 are on a transplant waiting list and only 4,578 donors this year to date (United States only). If you haven’t registered to donate an organ, you can do it right now at Donate Life, just as this young boy has done.

I am awestruck and inspired by these parents. We need more people like this in the world. This boy continues to live in others and now he will continue to live in you too.