Hearts 4 Hearts
When boarding my flight to Arizona for a Connect52 meeting with Todd Davis, CEO of Lifelock I had very little desire to connect to anyone or anything other than the backs of my eyelids. I was secretly glad I wasn’t sitting next to my father who was traveling with me.
Upon finding my seat I sat down next to a woman who seemed just about as interested to connect with me as I did her. I had a peaceful 45 minute nap before we were asked to prepare for landing. As I opened my eyes to the world around me again I couldn’t help but notice that the woman I was sitting next to opened a folder from the University of Utah Hospital that informed me; she was a kidney donor.
I couldn’t resist any longer as I confessed, “I couldn’t help but notice your folder. Are you donating a kidney?”. She informed me that she was donating a kidney so that her aging father would be more likely to receive a kidney. She was fortunate enough to not receive the hereditary kidney disease that had been passed down to several of her siblings.
As the conversation naturally shifted to a question and answer session, we started to peel back the onion of discovery and eventually hit upon my passion; Connect52. Upon describing to my new friend how Connect52 works and what it has done to increase the depth of my connection to my family, the barrage of questions started. As an organ donor it was recommended that she put all her affairs in order; just in case. Forced to confront her own mortality, she wondered if this could be something that would create a deeper connection to her siblings, her parents and more importantly her children and husband. With a sense of urgency she pulled out her phone to purchase the Connect52 app to get started connecting with her family.
My initial reason for writing this article about a Kidney Donor was to illustrate the need for Connect52 as individuals are faced with their mortality. Often, it is not until the time in which you are faced with your mortality that you begin to think about the legacy you will leave behind. It is my observation that our legacy is scattered across the hundreds of lives that we have touched and the experiences that were created. Too often the legacy is lost with the undocumented stories that may or may not be passed down from generation to generation or can be lost in translation.
Just before publishing another article illustrating the value of Connect52, a friend Konnie Roberts, Occupational Therapist for Intermountain Medical Center told me about an encounter she had with a former patient, Ken Gardner.
Kenny Gardner was in need of a heart transplant. Not just any heart transplant; as a former basketball star for the University of Utah, the 6’ 5” giant needed a heart. It would require a miracle; a last second shot, a hail mary pass, and an unfortunate passing of someone with a very large healthy heart. That miracle was answered on November 22nd in the form of Nick Longshore a BYU Offensive Lineman a football player with a giant heart. Nick Longshore was in a fatal ATV accident, leaving behind his beautiful wife, Caroline Longshore and unborn baby girl Hannah. Caroline decided she would meet the lucky recipient of her love’s heart. Kenny with a heart of gratitude was more than willing to thank Caroline for the sacrifice that her husband had decided to make when he marked YES to organ donation on his driver’s license.
“Would you be shocked to find out an average of 18 people die every day due to the shortage of available organ donors?
In total, there are more than 120,000 Americans awaiting their organ transplants, while millions of people die each year without signing up as organ and tissue donors. Sadly, an additional person shows up on the organ transplant list every 10 minutes.
A single organ donor has the potential to save up to 8 lives.
Register TODAY and join the other 100 million registered organ donors in the United States. Together, we can make a positive impact and start saving lives.” http://www.dmv.org/organ-
For all the great moments that have been created from the rivalry between BYU and the University of Utah this may be the greatest moment. As I tearfully watched the story of Ken Gardner and the Longshore family I came to the realization of the amazing human connections that have been created for years as so many people are walking around today from the extreme connection and generosity of organ donation.
I have had the great pleasure of connecting with Ken and it is my belief that together we can not only create tremendous awareness for organ donation, as I embarrassingly had to pull out my license to verify that I too am an organ donor. But with the help of Connect52 we can create a platform for people in need of organ donation and those people who have had the experience like Caroline Longshore to have the organ of their loved one live on in another to communicate about everything from overcoming fears of organ donation to the connection that is created between organ donor families and the recipients.
Imagine those waiting for an organ donation having a place in which they can go and see the questions that have been answered from the perspective of those who have gone before them and the families of those who have donated. Imagine a place in which families of organ donors can go and learn of the miracles of life that their loved ones have so generously gifted.
“The Ken Gardner Hearts 4 Hearts Foundation was created as Ken’s way of giving back after receiving the miraculous gift of a heart transplant. The Foundation is currently in the process of setting up a college scholarship fund for the surviving family members of organ donors. Organ donors are often young, healthy people who are tragically taken. In the midst of their tragedy, they give the gift of life by allowing other lives to continue through the gift of organ donation. Many times, these heroic donors leave behind minor children and other grieving family members. The purpose of the Hearts 4 Hearts Foundation’s scholarship fund is to provide a means for these surviving family members to pursue higher education.” http://www.hearts4hearts.org
Connect52 was the heart transplant that I needed to connect with my family. It may be the life line to remembering a loved one who passed too soon. I now hope that Connect52 and Hearts 4 Hearts will inspire organ donation and greater communication about the miracle which is a donation of life.