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Organ Donor Network wants families to "have the talk" on Thanksgiving

Posted at: 11/21/2012 5:51 PM
Updated at: 11/21/2012 6:03 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

This holiday weekend, the medical community wants you to have an uncomfortable conversation with your family. It's a difficult subject to bring up at the dinner table but the head of the Finger Lakes Organ Donor Recovery Network gave us an idea on how you can do it.

The network says you do it gently, but you turn the table on your parents. They had some serious talks with you. Now you have a serious talk with them about what they want to happen to their organs when they should pass. And tell them what your wishes are.

It's not easy, but these are life saving talks.

Just ask Margaret Johnson.

"Oh boy, I've been through a lot," she said. At 69, her heart was failing. "Waiting for a heart to become available is never easy."

But one week before her 70th birthday back in October, Mrs. Johnson got a transplant.

"There couldn't have been no better gift that God could have given me and I'm still pinching myself, you know?" she said.

The gift came from an organ donor, someone who decided years ago that they would pass on the gift of life. That's what the local organ donor recovery network wants families talking about when they get together this Thanksgiving.

"It is tough and yet we know that if families don't have that conversation how much more difficult it is when family members are faced with making that decision when they don't know what they're loved ones wishes are," Rob Kochik, executive director of the donor network said.

Already this year there have been 100 organ transplants at Strong Hospital. But there are more than 700 people on a waiting list for an organ. Kochik of the donor network wants older children to have the talk with their parents.

"You know mom and dad remember when you had all those conversations with me? I'd like to have an important conversation with you right now because I want to make sure that if and when something happens that I want to make the decision that you want," he said.

Margaret Johnson is thankful that someone had that talk before she needed a new heart.

"He allowed me to wake up in the morning and say thank you lord, thank you," she said. "He's given me that open door to have a chance to be a blessing to someone else."

And the network thinks Thanksgiving is the perfect time. Everyone is together so you might as well have the talk now.

Click here for a link to the Finger Lakes Organ Donor Recovery Network