Parents are supposed to die before their children. That's just the natural order of things. But life is full of tragic surprises.
Sometimes it even forces you to make some incredibly difficult decisions.
When Lindsey's 17-year-old daughter Jessica was in a horrific car crash, she was faced with a heart wrenching decision. Jessica was brain dead with her body being kept alive by machines. Doctors asked Lindsey if she wanted her organs donated, and the devastated mother recalled a conversation with Jessica saying she did indeed want to donate. So she did. And she saved four other lives because of it.
It's a truly selfless act, donating your organs so someone else has a chance at life. And this story really got me thinking. What if it were my 7- or 9-year-old son in this situation? They're too young to sign up for being an organ donor and they're too young to even understand the implications of it all. So there's no way I'd truly know their wishes.
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If one of my son's was pronounced brain-dead, would I want his organs donated?
It's easy to say, "Absolutely!" My kid would be gone, he doesn't need those organs. And if it can help save even one other life, it'd be worth it. But it's one thing to say that and an entirely different thing to actually do it.
If I lost my son, I'd want to hold him in my arms until the absolute bitter end. I'd want to hold on hope forever that his condition could somehow change.
By letting his organs be taken, I'd have to let my son go a bit earlier. They couldn't wait until he naturally died, they'd have to harvest and take them out sooner than later. I wouldn't get to hold him in my arms as he passed from this world to the next. I'd say my goodbyes as he was wheeled into the operating room.
That's pretty heavy stuff to think about. It's a real rough last image of your child burned in your mind. Not to mention the mental pictures of what surgeons would be doing to him after they took him away.
But on the flipside, if it was my child in desperate need of a liver or kidney and someone else selflessly donated theirs, I don't think I'd ever be able to truly express the insane amount of gratitude I'd have for that person. I've gotten to know some transplant survivors and they are nothing short of inspiring. There really is no greater gift than the gift of life.
It would be the hardest decision I'd ever have to make but I think my wife and I would both agree to let our son's tragic end bring a new beginning to someone else's life.
Would you let your child's organs be donated?
Photo via Ross Griff/Flickr