Thursday, May 08, 2008

We Have a Heart for You

"We have a heart for you." ~Grey's Anatomy

As of today at 8 p.m. CST, there are almost 100,000 people in the United States waiting for an organ transplant. On any given day, according to the Mayo Clinic 4000 people are awaiting new hearts.

Studies, including interviews with heart recipients, have shown that the heart has long-term memory. There is no other organ of the body that is so attached to human emotion and feeling and those studies demonstrated the heart's ability to remember food cravings and even some lifestyle preferences. Some have even suggested that the heart is the hub of logic and reasoning, two responsibilities formerly assigned to the brain.

There are days when I think I could stand a heart transplant. Maybe a bigger heart that has a bigger capacity to love and be loved. Or a smaller heart that has to be pickier due to limited space. Or maybe the heart of a vegetarian tri-athlete who is really good with money and loves being single.

On the flip side, what would I have to offer someone who needed my heart? A love for men in uniforms, applesauce on bread and baggy sweatshirts and a dislike for all things FEET?

I have given my heart away a couple of times although I am not sure what each recipient got out of it nor what he retained once I was gone. The first time, I only offered a piece of it, keeping in mind that donating it all without the guarantee of receiving a heart in return would leave me lifeless. The second time, I gave a pretty good chunk, very quickly. I didn't end up lifeless, obviously, but I learned that donating your heart to another is a lot like losing weight. If you do it too fast, the consequences can be life-threatening, painful and difficult to sustain. You have to take your time. Go slowly. And maybe go through a battery of tests to make sure that you're compatible before you start the transplantation process.

The greatest six words that someone on the heart waiting list can hear is "we have a heart for you." I know it doesn't nearly compare but I am hoping that the next time I make my heart available, the recipient is just as excited.

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