Indian Transplant Newsletter Vol. I Issue NO.: 3 (June 1999)
She gave her all..
Indian Transplant Newsletter.
Vol. I Issue NO.: 3 (June 1999)
Print ISSN 0972 - 1568
Loretta Andrews – wife, mother, friend of the homeless and of children in need. So many descriptions but the one that fitted her perfectly is the one that many of us only aspire to be a fine human being.
She was here in Chennai as part of a floating University, “SS Universe Explorer”, far away from her home in Maryland, USA. Unfortunately, it was to be her last port of call. On October 28, 1998, she was hit by an Madras Transport Corporation bus and went into an irreversible coma, with no hope of recovery.
Loretta Andrews had always recognised the inevitability of death but she did not believe that death signifies the end of giving. In an interview given on November 1, 1998 to Mr. Mark Larsen, Director, United States Information Service, Chennai, Mr. John Andrews, her younger son, spoke about his mother and precisely, that spirit of giving.
According to Mr. John Andrews, in the USA, and in particular in the state of Maryland, when one becomes a licensed driver, one of the questions on the application is “Would you like to be an organ donor?” One would then need to just check the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ box. Loretta Andrews had checked ‘Yes’ box and so in her license in bold letters under the word “Donor” it said YES.
Mr. Andrews had also designated himself an organ donor. As he puts it, when you decide to become an organ donor, you do it because you want to give and not because you expect anything in return. “It is passing on a human gift and being like that is very unselfish”, he said. That was the way his mother was when she gave everything she could and she wanted nothing for it and she raised her children to be that way, too.
In addition to marking ‘Yes’ on her driving license, Loretta Andrews had also made a “Living will”, where she clearly states that after her death she would like to be an organ donor. In it, she says, she realises that death is as much a part of life as birth, maturity and growing old. Life has to start and life has to end. This re-emphasizes the need for each one of us to make the decision to donate our very own and to then clearly express that wish to our families. We live our lives as we choose to and if we will it, so too in death.
Loretta Andrews was 67 years old but it was only because she lived a healthy, productive life, that her organs were transplanted successfully. Her kidneys went to a 44 year old woman who would have otherwise not survived, at all. Her corneas brought back sight to two people. The heart valves were also used.
Narrating a small incident, Mr. Andrews said, “One of her favourite things about the trip was when she went to Vietnam. She organised a trip to the zoo, for a group of local deaf children, with the help of some of the students with ‘semester at sea’. The children might not have been able to hear but looking at their smiles, their laughter and their gestures was enough for her. I think that kind of summarises why she would donate, because even in death, she could still keep giving- that for her was the ultimate gift of life”.
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- Keywords: Interview, organ donor