When I was five and a half months post tranny-p, I was due to go and compete at the British Transplant Games, that year to be hosted in Scotland. Right up until a few days before I was in two minds whether to go. I didn’t know what to expect and I was worried about embarrassing myself on the running track. But what worried me most was meeting so many other transplant recipients.
From the forums I’d been a part of since the op, I didn't always get the best impression from other recipients. I was worried that the Games would host a real community of ‘woe is me.’ Before I continue I’ll quickly say I did go to the Games and it was anything but that - brimming with people just happy and grateful to be alive and show their donors how much life and strength they’d given them. But I still think there is a lot of ‘woe is me’ in the recipient space.
The other day I read a post on good ol’ Facebook from a recipient saying something along the lines of ‘do you think transplant recipients are stronger people than everybody else because of what we’ve been through?’ Eager to read all the comments telling this person to get some perspective, I scrolled down, only to find almost a hundred comments agreeing with them.
I do absolutely believe that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, I also absolutely believe that an organ transplant, for most people, is an end to pain and suffering and worry. An end. On this planet how many millions of people must there be without an end to their pain in sight. Whether living with cancer or in a war-torn country or, possibly most relevant to us, having lost a loved one and living with overwhelming grief, maybe that loved one was your donor. what sort of person who has just been given their life back can really truly think they’ve had it worse than anybody else?! I couldn’t stop thinking about the Facebook post for days after reading it. We are in a group of the luckiest people alive.
My experience of people at the Transplant Games thankfully shows me that this isn’t by any means how all recipients feel. And it goes without saying that, as with everything in life, those of us that just tend to get on, to make the best of our time, that don’t feel the need to complain and moan and seek out sympathy, are the ones that don’t fill the message boards on forums and fill our own Facebook profiles with tales of not-ideal medication side-effects and feeling more tired than we’d like. And therefore it’s the few people who really do feel hard done by, despite having been given the gift of life, that have a proportionally much louder voice and, I fear, portray a view of organ donation that I’m not much a fan of.
Interviews with the Beeb and stories in the Sunday Mirror are not things I particularly love doing (mainly because I can’t fathom other people finding it in any way interesting!), but I do them to try to show the side of organ donation that I value the most and the side that I think should be shared with the world - the very very positive side, full of gratitude and life, full of smiling despite getting stuck in the rain or missing the train. Let people who don’t realise how lucky they are moan about those things, we should be looking up at the sky, inhaling the air, touching our loved ones’ arm and feeling the warmth of their bodies. We should be the ones celebrating life the most and trying to spread the message that other people should do the same.
Nobody cares about how tired you are you ungrateful swine, and the message you must be sharing is how thankful we are to organ donors. Surely nothing is going to encourage people to get on that list more than seeing the positive difference they can make and seeing how much of a legacy they can leave behind.
It’s not about us. Our stories are about life and love and positive reinforcement of the wonders of organ donation. Life isn’t easy for anybody, you’ve had more than most people ever will.
Very keen to know what you think! Please click on the heart if you feel the same or leave a comment :) THANK YOU!