Friday, March 8, 2013

The Lingering Lessons From Great Ormond Street

IMAGE: MORGUEFILE.COM | Lingering Lessons Of Great Ormond
Wow. Has anyone watched the BBC documentary, Great Ormond Street? It follows the day to day ups and downs of a children's hospital in Britain and it's enthralling and heart - wrenching all at once. If you ever need to re-group and find that sense of appreciation for the fortunate life you lead (if indeed like me, child illness is not a part of your world), this is the program to watch (complete with the aloe vera tissues - you'll need 'em). 

I've watched a couple of episodes with reluctant curiosity about how little kids cope with the rigors of aggressive cancers, torturous treatments, long term heart failure and sometimes certain death. The viewing, while important and sometimes joyous, is not for the faint-hearted due to its sensitive rawness. The most recent episode focused on heart transplant kids and how so few hearts become available due largely to the unwillingness of parents to provide the ultimate gift in that one awful situation (no judgement here incidentally). These poor infants lined up in their hospital cots, often attached to a Berlin Heart (an artificial heart pumping for them outside the body) sit simply waiting for another child to die somewhere in the world so that they may live. If that's not the greatest a battle between Mother Nature and the miracle of modern medicine, I don't know what is.

I'm amazed at how strong people need to become in such awful circumstances and it makes me look at myself and wonder how I would cope. I guess I would, but I pray I never need to be tested to that kind of limit. The parents (and their kids) become almost super human in their courage and determination to overcome and to watch their journey immediately makes you assess your own character and indeed your behaviour towards your own healthy children.

The other thing I have taken from the program is the notion of organ donation and how each and every family should make the important confronting decisions well ahead of time. Would I want my family to donate my organs should anything happen to me? Would I offer my children's organs to another sick child should the situation arise? Does a part of me think we need them in the next life? Perhaps it is the unknown that makes us reluctant? Although I choose not to necessarily answer those questions here, I pledge to at least have the tough conversations for the sake of those waiting on a list somewhere, hoping desperately for the gift of life. 

And in the meantime, perhaps I'll tolerate my children's incessant chattering and unnecessary day to day noise a little better from here on. 

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