Why I became an organ donor

How a little boy's double-lung transplant inspired one woman to become an organ donor.

Logan

Lego fan Logan recently received a double lung transplant. Photo: Amy Valm

Today is bittersweet.

My seven-year-old Lego-loving pal Logan is recovering from a double-lung transplant, which will, we hope, extend and improve his life for many years to come.

Today is bittersweet because all of Logan’s family and friends are breathing a sigh of relief that a donor has been found, but our breath also catches as we remember where the generous donation came from—a family who has just lost their child.

Logan—named after Marvel character Wolverine—is as strong and courageous as his name suggests. He’s a big ball of energy who is equal parts mischief and snuggles. It wasn’t until earlier this year that his parents noticed something was wrong. He was having a difficult time running and keeping up with friends, was often short of breath, and his fingernails were turning blue.

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With both lungs deteriorating, the prognosis was grim. Logan would need to be connected to an oxygen tank 24/7 and be put on the transplant list.

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I never gave much thought to organ donation before I met Logan. It was a topic I squirmed away from. I’m young. I’m healthy. I don’t lead a dangerous life. Risk to me is defined by eating gluten or staying up until midnight on a weeknight. I don’t need to think about donating my organs yet. Which is an odd way for me to think considering I’m no stranger to life-saving transplants.

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In the ’90s, my amazing aunt Sharon gave her sister, my late aunt Heather, one of her kidneys so she could enjoy several more years of life. And my great uncle George zipped around in his minivan with the license plate NU HART after a successful heart transplant.

So, after seeing how a donation can change a family—my family—for the better, why was I still so squeamish?

I think, like many people, coming face-to-face with your own demise is a tad unsettling. But realistically, when it’s your time to go, you don’t need your body anymore. It’s a personal choice, of course, but one that I feel is important for everyone to consider.

That’s why, when it was time to renew my heath card last month, I thought of Logan and clicked the organ donation box. And while I hope I can enjoy a long life, I also feel at peace knowing that other families—families like Logan’s and my own—can potentially benefit, too.

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Which is why today we’re crying tears of joy for Logan while another family is crying tears of sorrow. But today—and every day—Logan, his family and his friends are eternally grateful for that family’s gift of life.

 Amy Valm is a Toronto-dwelling twentysomething with a penchant for Frank Black and grandma-y things. 

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