|Volume LIII||November 2006||Number 4|
The Greatest Gift
Leave one final legacy that may save the lives of several people: donate your organs.
Humans have much to provide one another. Friendship, advice or a helping hand are just a fraction of our offerings. One of the greatest ways we can show humanity is through organ donation. Continuing to contribute to this world even after we have said our eternal goodbyes is the ultimate charity.
In the spirit of Masons Helping Masons, organ donation may benefit a fellow brother or any of the 80,000 Americans waiting for an organ. To be an organ donor, it is as simple as signing an organ donor card and informing your next of kin of your decision. Following are three Masons who can appreciate the value of such a sacrifice.
Bro. Bob Kimble, of Lodge No. 62, was unable to work for six years, as he lived on dialysis and awaited a kidney transplant. On the organ donation list since March 2000, he never thought it was going to happen.
A year and a half ago, he received the fateful call requesting he be at the University of Pennsylvania hospital as soon as possible. After the surgery, he no longer required dialysis. He has since returned to work and, aside from occasional fatigue, is doing very well.
Bro. Kimble joined the Masonic fraternity 12 years ago. He had heard they do good things for the community and had several friends who were involved. "It's great we're doing this," he said of the Masonic Organ Donor Program. "I encourage many people - anyone who is willing and healthy enough - to donate their organs."
Bro. Michael Guy, of William McIlroy Lodge No. 269, was placed on the donor waiting list in 1995, only days after being diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy. He had to retire from his job with the Asbestos Workers Local Union because of the heart condition, which kept him in bed some days or allowed him to be outside riding his motorcycle other days. His illness also halted his entrepreneurial spirit when it prevented him from continuing two self-made businesses.
Bro. Guy waited six years, but then the call came. In a state of shock, he was at the hospital within minutes. Only 12 percent of diagnosed Cardiomyopathy patients receive transplants. His heart transplant was performed in July 2001 and it has been smooth riding ever since. "I'm feeling great," he said, "like nothing ever happened."
By September of the same year, he enrolled himself in a local community college. He graduated from California University of Pennsylvania in 2005 with a chemistry degree and recently accepted a position as an environmental chemist.
"The Masonic Organ Donor Program is an absolute great idea," Bro. Guy said. "The person who saved my life, saved six others."
He realizes the sacrifice not only for the donor, but also for the donor's loved ones. "The family is traumatized. The person is healthy one minute and the next minute, not there."
Bro. Guy married his wife, Christina, in October 2001 and became a Mason soon after the transplant. "So I ended up with four gifts: life, a Harley, a beautiful wife and acceptance into the Masons," he said. He feels Masons Helping Masons is the perfect tenet for a group of men who are natural volunteers in their community, whether it is with the fire company or organ donation. "The Masons are a magnet for men with a concept of helping their fellow brother or man."
Bro. Robert Horen, of Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 19, lived with a condition called amyloidosis, in which his kidneys weakened from accumulated abnormal proteins. He received a stem cell transplant and chemotherapy, which helped fight the disease, but contributed to the worsening of his kidneys. Doctors told him he faced dialysis and end stage renal failure. One clinic advised him to "get his affairs in order."
His doctor placed him on the organ donor waiting list three years ago. As his condition declined, Bro. Horen was ready to start dialysis when he received a phone call telling him a kidney that was a possible match had become available.
On Feb. 22, 2006, at 1 a.m., he received a second call, the one that altered his life. The kidney was a match! He headed straight to the University of Pennsylvania for surgery. He was home in four days and on vacation in London two months later.
"I feel terrific," he said, nine months after his operation. Health problems resulting from his condition, including trouble with standing, a fracture that was not healing properly and back pain, soon alleviated.
He credits his new life to the miracle men, who were his doctors, and his wife, Betsy, for being there when he needed her. He will not soon forget the gift a stranger gave to him. "I think about it every day: somebody died to give me a kidney. Somebody grieved for that person."
Bro. Horen, a Mason for 47 years, has always considered the brotherhood an important part of his life. The Masonic Organ Donor Program is "absolutely wonderful" and very important for Masons, or any person, to be aware of, he said.
The Pennsylvania Masonic Organ Donor Program was started in 1996 under R.W. Past Grand Master Edward O. Weisser, as an educational tool to help people understand what organ donation entails. Upon its initiation, more than 300 people signed organ donation cards. Each year, the program adds new members to its list.
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