By Lib McGreggor Simmons
In the numbering of the Sundays of the Christian year, Nov. 10, 2013, was the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. However, last Sunday was by no means an ordinary Sunday at Davidson College Presbyterian Church. It was a Sunday not only for singing “Amazing Grace,” but for experiencing God’s grace in a most amazing and personal way.
On this extraordinary Sunday, the members of our congregation got to meet the family of Peggy Long, the person who saved my husband’s life.
Peggy Long was 59 when she suffered a sudden stroke in Kannapolis.
Her driver’s license did not bear the tiny heart indicating that she wished to be an organ donor, but her four sons, Harold, Bryan, Philip and Jason, upon learning that their mother would not survive, decided in the throes of their grief to donate their mother’s vital organs so that someone totally unknown to them might have life.
Peggy died on Jan. 22, and on Jan. 23, her healthy liver was transplanted by Carolinas Medical Center’s surgical team into my husband’s body.
In 2009, my husband, Gary, had been diagnosed with cirrhosis due to a previously undetected genetic condition, Alpha-1 anti-trypsin deficiency. He eventually was placed on the liver transplant waiting list at Carolinas Medical Center. For 16 months, Gary waited for a potential match while our congregation and community surrounded us with love and prayer.
Gary is on his way to a full and healthy life. He is working a couple of days a week, leading a lively sixth-grade church youth group and walking the streets of Davidson’s St. Alban’s neighborhood where he is on the community’s Council of Stewards.
And he is volunteering with LifeShare of the Carolinas as he spearheads a golf tournament to be held in fall 2014 to promote organ donor awareness.
Gary and our family will never be able to express adequately our gratitude for the gift of life that he received from Peggy Long and her family.
One thing that we can do, however, is to urge you and every person we meet to register as an organ donor at your local DMV or online at www.donatelifenc.org.
This weekend, Nov. 15-17, is National Donor Sabbath.
Research indicates that one primary reason for not registering as organ donors is that people believe this is forbidden by the particular faith they practice. However, the truth is that nearly all major religions view organ donation as an act of charity and love of neighbor.
There are 120,000 persons awaiting transplants in the U.S. today and 3,500 in N.C. Sign up today to give the gift of life!
Lib McGreggor Simmons is senior pastor of Davidson College Presbyterian Church.