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A Tuesday night game between the Royals and the White Sox in April isn’t the sexiest draw, but it was perfect for a first-time group outing. The 21st was supposed to be Organ Donor Awareness Night at Guaranteed Rate Field, my pet project over the winter. In early March, everything looked great. Tickets were selling, word-of-mouth was spreading, and there was enough enthusiasm to think that this could be an annual event.
But now, we wait till next year.
Last year, on the same day that pitchers and catchers reported, I left the University of Chicago Medical Center after a seventy-day visit. On January 27th, I underwent liver transplant surgery, and I was coming home just in time for Spring Training.
For most of my life, I’ve listened to games rather than watching them. But last summer, I watched almost the whole season. Eventually I was healthy enough to go out and see some games in person. Being up and around again inspired me to do something, to give back. The idea for a fundraiser or some sort of event at a ballpark felt right.
Initially, I thought I would approach the local independent league team, ask if I could set up a table on the concourse and try to convince people to register to become organ donors. But, thanks in large part to my wife and Mike Trout’s sore right toe (long story), the White Sox gladly helped me arrange a fundraiser.
Part of the ticket price was going to Gift of Hope, a terrific organization that helps families on both sides of the organ donation process. Gift of Hope works with hospitals and patients in the greater Chicagoland area to make difficult and trying times easier to understand and ultimately more fulfilling. A single organ donor can help up to eight people, and tissue and corneal donations can help many more. Organ donation is more than just a gift of hope; it is the gift of life.
Every successful transplant comes with its own set of miracles: some divine, others man-made, all of them beautiful. A combination of sacrifice, generosity, and dedication create something transformative and humbling. My transplant has taught me that fear is more dangerous than any unknown. A year out, I feel stronger and more grateful than I knew possible.
I listened to a lot of Ed Farmer over the years, but I didn’t get a chance to hear him at all last year. I always used to listen in the car or at work, but I couldn’t drive and I couldn’t work. I don’t think he knew about the event, but I hoped that maybe I’d get a chance to meet him, learn a bit about his experience. I’m a new member to a select club now, and I have a lot to learn. I want to display the same passion that he did, maintain the same sense of curiosity about treatments and innovations, and be a strong advocate for the cause.
There won’t be an Organ Donor Awareness Night this year, and that’s okay. We’ll try again next year. Hopefully it won’t rain.