Natalie's first birthday-- and birthday cake!
Six months ago today, on October 30, 2007, my beautiful 14-month old niece passed away. Natalie (or Nat-Nat as family and friends called her) was a happy, bubbly, active baby. She was the delight of her parents, grandparents, and doting aunts and uncles, and her big sister's special playmate. On October 24, she accidentally wandered into a backyard with an open pool and fell in. Although she survived the drowning initially, she died after 5 days on life support. Losing Natalie is the single hardest and saddest thing my family has ever endured. We miss her terribly every day. There is little to ease the ache.
However, Natalie's spirit lives on in many ways. Her parents decided to donate her organs, and now others have the chance to live because of Natalie's tremendous gift. My sister has said that the decision was an natural one to make, and that they are so thankful Natalie was able to help others in this way.
My husband is also an organ donor. Nearly eight years ago he donated a kidney to his brother. So, in many ways organ donation is a hugely important part of our family's story. I have always felt that I would want to be an organ donor, but over the past months the impact of that decision has taken on additional meaning. For years I have had my driver's license show that I wish to be an organ donor, but I recently learned that this may not be legally binding. However, it is quick and simple to sign up to be an organ donor online, and it is a legal decision.
If you live in North Carolina, go here to sign up today. If you live in Virginia (my sister's home), go here. If you live in other states, just Google "organ donation" plus your state's name. It really does take only 5 minutes, but it could literally save the life of someone else someday.
My sister said that someone she met recently (not Natalie's recipient, but another) told her that her donor did not die so she could live, but she lives because her donor could not. Wow. What a tremendous legacy to leave behind. What a priceless gift to give. Won't you consider signing up today?
My two favorite donors-- Natalie and her Uncle Mark
They truly are my heroes.