I’ve enjoyed sharing my story of donating a kidney to my son, Paul, with just about anyone who’ll listen, in most every medium available: in person, of course (IRL, as they say); in print; online; on radio; on TV—and, most recently, the coolest yet: an interactive multimedia wall.
What, you ask, is a multimedia wall? It’s a giant touch screen about the size of a double window, a touching tribute to donors and recipients at University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill. That’s where Paul’s transplant (ditto my donation just down the hall) took place more than 13 years ago.
“The Stories of Transplant Care” wall is in the busy lobby of UNC’s Children’s Hospital. On a recent Saturday, UNC Health Care unveiled it to a small crowd of recipients and their families, donors, and professionals from UNC and Carolina Donor Services, which cosponsored it. The program, which was predominantly about deceased donation, was a powerful reminder of how, in death, one person can help several others to live productive lives.
In the audience was an older gentleman who’d had a heart transplant there 32 years ago (yes, you read that right–he may hold the record). In 1987, when he had his transplant, the life expectancy for a heart transplant recipient was about 5 years. Unbelievable!
If you tap “Donor Stories” or “Recipient Stories,” the screen takes you to articles or video interviews with such individuals or their families, sharing their personal experiences. You can also learn about the history of transplants and related topics, including “Information about Organ Donation.”
Among the Donor Stories is the heading Carol O., above a big photo of my husband (Neil), Paul, and me at a Triangle Kidney Walk; it alternates with a similar photo from the previous year’s Walk and a family photo that includes our daughter, Nora, taken in Paris last year. Next to the changing photos is a long story about the donation and transplant.
Seeing our family’s triumphant story and smiling faces on a wall with those memorable stories of donors and recipients was a very moving and humbling experience. I felt honored to be among them.