News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

April 26, 2013

EDITORIAL: The lessons of organ donation

Katelyn’s outcome a stark reminder

TERRE HAUTE — The range of emotion surrounding life-saving transplantation of a vital organ is extreme. It is the ultimate “good news-bad news” scenario.

First, there is the bad news. Someone, somewhere, has lost his or her life. Tragedy and heartache are overwhelming for the immediate survivors. In the midst of indescribable sorrow, a life-changing decision is made. Although a treasured loved one has slipped away, an organ, perhaps more than one, is donated to an anonymous recipient. The only thing known is that someone, somewhere will live a better, longer life because of this precious gift. Perhaps this knowledge will bring a shred of comfort to the survivors amid their sorrow.

And then, there is the good news. An anxious, gravely ill patient who has been hoping a long time for the opportunity to become healthy again suddenly gets her wish. The agonizing wait is over, and the promise of a better life takes hold.

Today, the “good news” has a name. It’s Katelyn Newell, a Terre Haute second-grader who has been hospitalized since early January. The 8-year-old Deming Elementary student was born with a heart defect, but previous surgeries were unable to correct the problem. A heart transplant was her only remaining option.

On Wednesday, Katelyn got her new heart, and her new life. She is recovering from transplant surgery at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. With her mother constantly by her side since she was hospitalized, they dreamed about this day. All the while, they knew the joy of a life-saving transplant would be the result of another family’s sorrow.

The Wabash Valley community can share in both the joy and sorrow of this inspiring story. While feeling great relief and happiness that young Katelyn now has a fighting chance to rejoin her Deming classmates and live a more normal life, we can all temper our enthusiasm for the outcome with the understanding that an anonymous family and an unknown community are mourning a terrific loss. We join their grieving and offer prayers of sympathy and comfort.

The lessons of organ donation are like that.

Now, we urge others to apply those lessons. There cannot be a better time for individuals and families to talk about pledging themselves to becoming organ donors should circumstances arise. Make your intentions known. Put them in writing. Be prepared. Doing so may someday even save a life.

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