Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Thank you. . . for the gift of life.
We are coming up on 8 months since Trayvon's heart transplant. That's amazing to me. How time has flown. I have sat down to write a letter of thanks to the donor's family many times. I wasn't ready. I still find it incredibly difficult to process the reality of what it meant for my son to live. A fellow human being was being grieved over by their loved ones. A young man had died and was giving my son his chance to live. It's overwhelming simple and yet devastatingly complex. So tonight I made my first attempt. I'm sure I'll revamp it. I'm sure I'll write several other "options". But, tonight I sat down and faced the raw emotions and shared with this wonderful family what happened in those precious hours they were grieving and how the gift has changed a life.
Where to start? I guess I’ll start with, Thank you. It’s so trivial and small, but it carries such a powerful message. Thank YOU.
The gift of your loved one’s heart has saved the life of my son, Trayvon. He had been waiting for over 2 years. The last 6 months, he was dependent on oxygen and strong IV medications. He spent many weeks in the Pediatric ICU for irregular heart rates and the need to be “shocked” back into rhythm. We didn’t see him as sick. He didn’t see himself as sick. We had to be persuaded that now was the time. . . but then we waited and no call came.
I had decided to take only a few of our six children to Church on 2/12/12. As we were walking in I reminded Trayvon that he had a dental appointment in the morning and that it would probably be his last one for a while, since we were hoping his call would come soon. He responded that if he was lucky, his call would come today so he wouldn’t have to go. Tray hates the dentist. J While sitting and listening to the sermon, I thought I should check my phone in my coat pocket. I was worried that if it vibrated in my pocket, I would miss “the call”. As I pulled it out to be sure I hadn’t missed a call, the phone vibrated and the word, “blocked” was on my screen. Transplant warned me, the call would say “blocked”. Tray got his wish, no dentist appointment. By 1:30 am my baby boy had flown 2 hours, taken a mad ambulance ride from NJ to NYC, had a whirlwind of an admission to the ICU and brought to the operating room. At 5:30 am, the doctors said the operation was over. As I was rejoicing in the gift of life, you were grieving in the devastation of loss. I was overwhelmed and cried for a very long time. I knew that emotions would flow. I knew what Tray’s chance at life would mean for another human being. But, when it hit and the finality of it all. . .I was overwhelmed.
Tray arrived an hour later, extremely fragile and precariously unstable. But, his oxygen saturations were 100%. We hadn’t seen that number in years. His heart was so strong it was shaking his whole body with each beat. In fact, once he was stable and the breathing tube was removed, he had to be reassured that his heart was very much working perfectly. He was scared at how hard it beat, he had not felt his own heart beat in over 10 years, due to severe heart failure. The only time he would feel it, was when it was in a very dangerous arrhythmia. What a gift!
Today, Tray goes to middle school. He takes his 13 medicines without any complaint. He runs, he plays. He turns 14 in a couple of months. His skin is a beautiful healthy brown now instead of a dusky gray. He used to have severe and painful varicose veins from his feet to his thighs due to extremely poor blood flow. They are all gone now, and he has no more leg pain and cramps to awake him in the night. He has a “girlfriend” who, like he, had a heart transplant and like him, is also adopted. What a match made in Heaven.
The gift of a new heart is beyond Trayvon’s capacity to really understand at this time. We were warned that he may not even really “get it” for a while and then one day. . . he will and it will weigh heavy on his heart and mind. But, I want you to know I get it. I understand the heartache and pain that went into that decision. I have tried to picture who was the young man that gave my little man life. I just can’t. We aren’t allowed any demographics. All we know is our donor was male and close to our hospital. Was he husband, a father, or maybe a college student. What food did he like, what sports did he like? Was he artistic, or musical or athletic? Whatever he was, he is Trayvon’s angel of life, nothing can top that ever. He was a miracle at birth and a miracle at death. I can only hope that one day I have the opportunity to return the favor to someone else.
If you wish to contact us. Please, do not hesitate. We would be honored to know you more. If you chose not to, we understand. We would love to send you a picture so you can see your gift in action.
So, the only really appropriate words that can do any justice at all to such selfless act are, thank you.
With all of my love, and deepest sympathy and thanks,
Renee, mother of Trayvon