Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bitter Recipients

     Over a year ago, my younger brother had a heart transplant. So, as you can imagine, we've spent quite a few hours in transplant clinics, specialized doctor's offices, etc. We've met many people along the way, of course; some very kind people, but others quite unsavory in their words and conduct. It's the latter of these two types that I wish to address.

     I understand that it's tough having an organ transplant. Really, I get that. It's very unfortunate that people have to go through all the nonsense that comes along with getting a transplant; doctors visits constantly, unending amounts of medications that can have hideous side effects, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, etc. I don't discount any of that at all. But how on earth someone can have the gall to complain endlessly about their misfortunes in that situation boggles me and at times, vexes me.

     If you had a transplant of any kind, most likely that was the last resort. You were on your way out. Dying. The chances of actually getting the transplant are always slim; you wait many days, weeks, months, even years, slowly wasting away, with frail hope that something will come through. And then, if that magical day does happen to come, your life changes; you're thrust into a new world of medical jargon and pills and treatments, but you're alive. You get another chance at life, a chance denied to far too many waiting on the transplant registries. How grateful should you be, that you're the lucky one out of thousands, that the heart/lung/other organ fit YOU perfectly, it was meant especially for YOU, so now YOU can live life again. No more dying, hospital stays, no more waiting... You get to be with your family again, they don't have to be so stressed and worried about you. Maybe now since you've got the reassurance of being alive for a while, maybe now you can marry the one you so dearly love; previously while your life was up in the air, it was difficult to commit to someone, knowing that most likely you would die and leave them alone in the world. How lovely for you, how great that you get this second chance at life. Isn't it worth the extra pills and doctors' visits, just to be alive again?

     In the waiting rooms for the transplant clinics and whatnot, I hear a lot of conversation. Some of it is merely overheard, other times it's directed at us. Some people have told my brother such negative and hideous things, like how unfortunate that he has to go through that at such a young age. Of course it's unfortunate! But it's a heck of a lot better than being dead; he can attest to that. I've heard people complain against doctors mercilessly, saying despicable things about the very people that saved their lives. How can you be so vehemently against anyone that helps you so much, anyone that gives you a new chance at life... I don't care if the doctor doesn't have the best bedside manner, they saved your sorry life and you should be grateful to them and not disrespect them.

     Finally, and to me the worst of it all, how dare you complain about the small details like increased medications and difficult doctors, how dare you complain about your poor "quality of life", when someone died to give you that very life you complain about. You're alive because someone is DEAD. Organs don't appear out of nowhere. Somewhere, a family lost their child, a spouse lost their most loved one, a child lost their parent... And because of that, you have the ability to be alive, and, unfortunately, you also have the ability to take that for granted. You think you have it hard? You're alive. You're not grieving the loss of a loved one that donated their organs to people like you. Life is so precious. You should know that, you were dying at one point. At some point, you decided that life was so precious that you applied to be on the transplant registry. Nobody forced you, you could have declined if life was so difficult; you could have lived out your days in the hospital and then died; someone else could have had that heart or lung that you took, but instead you thought life was worth it, and you took it for yourself. That's fine, you're entitled to that. But don't you dare ever utter such words as "I wish I had just died back in the hospital", because for far too many, that's the reality. Waiting, dying, hoping, all for nothing in the end. You were fortunate. You're entitled to your difficulties, but you are not entitled to incessant complaining and gross ingratitude. You don't get to be bitter, because far too many bitterly weep for those lost while waiting, those lost who gave their organs up, far too many people wish they had your luck. Don't be a disgusting human being. Be grateful for the sacrifices made, the doctors skilled hands, the modern advances in science and technology that allow you to be breathing today. Be grateful for your second chance.

note: this in no way has anything to do with the attitude of my brother towards his transplant. He and many others I've met are so ultimately thankful to the doctors, donors, and ultimately God, for their second chance at life, and they're living their life in happiness and joy, as second chances are meant to be lived.

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