bone-deep gratitude

“If the only prayer you ever said in your whole life was ‘Thank you’ that would suffice.” (Meister Eckhart)

Today on Facebook a friend posted in gratitude on the fourth anniversary of his heart and kidney transplant. Definitive proof that miracles happen everyday, to people we know and love.

A smaller miracle happened to me, recently, when I had my first foot surgery. My midfoot was a mess–there are a lot of small bones and cartilage in that area–and so my surgeon had quite a bit of repair work to do, culminating in a fusion stabilized by several plates and screws. Lisfranc fractures are by definition nasty and complicated to fix.

I knew about most of this prior to the surgery, although I didn’t appreciate just how much skill would be needed to fix this mess and how lucky I was to have to surgeon I did.

What I did not realize, however, was that I would receive the following notice in my post-surgery information packet:

Dear Patient:

During your recent surgery, you received a tissue graft from MFT. [Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation] This graft was made from donated tissue (bone, tendon, ligament, or skin), which is now your own. The tissue was donated at the time of the donor’s death. Many donors and their families choose donation so that they and their family member may matter in death as they mattered in life. Today, you are a recipient of this gift.

I am able to walk again only because some thoughtful, generous person and their family chose to donate part of their body after death. It really is that simple: it was a nasty break that couldn’t have been repaired without donor bone chips.

And I love my walks, need my walks. My walks keep me sane. They clear my mind and lift my mood, they keep me connected with nature, with God’s creation. And of course walks are terrific therapy for fibromyalgia.

I’m in the process of writing a thank you letter to the donor family to tell them just how much their gift has affected me. I’m planning to send them some photos me at some of my favorite places to walk: Lake of the Isles, Dorothy Mary Park, The Stone Arch Bridge, Minnehaha Parkway.

I keep looking at my foot and thinking about what a difference a few chips of bone have made.

And I’ve emailed the MFT to let them know that I am interested in being a donor. I’m already an organ donor, but until my surgery, tissue donation had never occurred to me. All of my life I’ve wanted to make a difference…perhaps this is one chance to do so.

If you are interested in becoming a tissue donor, or finding out more about the program, contact the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation at linkinglives@mtf.org or call them toll free at 855-554-LINK (5465).

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