In my public speaking course, our first big speech was due this week. It was a belief speech in which we talk about something we deeply believe in, why we believe it, and how the belief affects our life. I decided to write about organ donation because it is a topic that I have experience with and that is near and dear to my heart. So I wrote out my speech and I was feeling so good about it--it was heartfelt and personal just like I wanted. The best speeches are always delivered with emotion and my story was touching. However, when I got in front of that crowd, the emotion was overwhelming and I couldn't hold it together. I bawled in front of my entire class. I am not a huge fan of crying, especially with a live audience, so embarrassed doesn't even describe how I feel. My perfectly timed speech was then a minute and a half over, as I struggled to get out the words. I still feel terrible over it, but many of my classmates reassured me that it was still a very strong speech, and that crying was expected considering I was bearing my soul. Many of my classmate teared up with me. The worst part though, is that the entire speech was recorded on film. I had a microphone attached that caught every sniffle, and the camera caught my shaking hands wiping the tears away and struggling as my glasses slid down my face with my tears. Having to watch myself bawling and struggling through my speech is going to really SUCK. Here is the write out of my belief speech for those of you who are interested:
I believe that organ donation is something that is hugely important, not only for our society as a whole, but especially for me as an individual. Being an organ donor is something I identify myself with, and it is something that I am very passionate about. This topic is such a huge part of my life because if it wasn't for organ donors, my father would not be alive today. It's a scary thought, but it's completely true.
My father has been terminally ill my entire life, and when I was in the fourth grade, his liver began to fail due to hepatitis. He was on the donor list for over two years, and there were many names above his who had been waiting much longer than he had. My father told me that at the time, about sixty percent of the people on the waiting list to get a new liver would die before they ever got that life changing phone call saying that a liver had been found for them. The hope for my dad to get a new liver seemed very unlikely. As my father's illness worsened, he continued to move toward the top of the list, but it got to the point where the doctors sent him home to be comfortable--there was nothing left for us to do but hope. At a very young age, I was forced to come to terms with the fact that my father wouldn't be around much longer. It was just a looming fact that I had to figure out how to deal with--it seemed that there were no more miracles left in store for him. But on May third of 2002, we received that life changing phone call, and a miracle happened.
I remember being dragged out of bed to hurriedly pack my bags; I remember my mother's frantic phone calls to everyone in the family; and I remember my father growing anxious and afraid. It all happened so fast, but it was happening; everyone was feeling a mixture of happiness, relief, and panic. I remember my father being prepped for surgery and saying goodbye, hoping that it wasn't the last time. I remember waiting for over twenty hours in the family waiting room, listening to my grandmother weep and watching my mother's uncertain silence. I think I was too young to fully grasp how my father's life was hanging in the balance, but I was aware enough to have a sick feeling in my stomach the entire time, until the surgeons finally came out and told us--my dad came out of surgery ok. I wasn't allowed to see him for days; my mom didn't want us to see him like that--hooked up to life support with all sorts of tubes coming out of him. I didn't understand then why I couldn't see my dad, but I do now that I'm older and I have seen him like that. It's a scarring image. So I was forced to go home and be babysat by my frantic grandmother until I could see my father's cheeky grin a few days later.
It has now been almost 11 years since my dad's transplant and his body has accepted the liver remarkably well--he didn't even need anti-rejection medication after his surgery. Although he is still terminally ill with numerous health issues, he has had zero problems with his liver since the surgery. It is now HIS liver; his body has embraced it with open arms, the liver which gave him life.
That very liver that now works within my father's body had once belonged to a very old woman who was otherwise healthy until a brain aneurism took her life. Her being an organ donor changed my life forever; my potentially fatherless life was flipped, and I have no one to thank but her. Her death, a tragedy no doubt, had a positive impact on so many; through her death she gave my father life, and countless other people in need of organ transplants. I can't imagine anything more meaningful than that.
It is because of this, my father's miracle, that I decided to become an organ donor. My strong belief in organ donation affects my life in the sense that I know when I pass on, my precious organs will be given away. It's a weird thing to think about, but for me it is comforting. We all want to be remembered, to have our life mean something, to have an impact on the world. At the end of my life, however sad and unfortunate, I want to be able to give that gift of life through my own death, to someone who could potentially have many more years to come after receiving my organs. I believe that my death will then mean something, to someone, as that old lady's death did to me.