July 12, 2017
Dear Darkened Rose,
You often mentioned your wish to donate your body to science, and I was always so proud of you for wanting that. It turns out, you never made plans for it. In our welter of grief, we did what was easiest for us when nothing was clarified in writing. I am sorry for that. This leads me to my first question that I wish I could ask you:
What are you doing with your body?!?
It has inspired me to make better plans for my own body. Now, after having done so, I am passionate about the topic of whole body donation and hope to inspire more people to make similar plans. I have found a program that aligns with my different criterions, and I believe you might be interested in it, also.
I was in search for an organization that covered all of the following:
1. Allow for initial organ donation.
I wanted a program that allowed for viable organ donation to be a priority to provide for the living, if possible. I started researching in 2011 by looking through several willed body programs through Texas universities. I noticed that there was a commonality that most of these programs would not give me the option of allowing my organs to be removed for transplant. I felt my efforts were thwarted, and I refused to choose a university until I could do better research (granted, the Google results were even less prolific back then than they are today).
So I put the search on hold and picked it back up when I moved to a new address. I appreciated seeing the little heart in the bottom right corner of my driver’s license, and I knew I did not want to give that up.
2. Minimal to no cost for my survived loved ones.
I, again, felt the need to look into donating my body to science so I did another google search at the end of 2012 with the words “donate body without organs, science, free.”
I discovered, in my initial 2011 search, that some programs will take the body, do their research and then returned the cremated remains for free. The average funeral can cost a family around $7,000. Relieving that burden for the people I love, in and of itself, felt like the greatest benefit. Albeit, how was I supposed to choose my family’s future finances over giving away my organs to people in need? I refused.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon a program called Science Care. After reading every last word on their website, I signed up! I was hopeful that by my time of death, they would expand their coverage and eventually they would have a facility in Texas. I have watched their website grow to gain a better UI and to providing significantly more information about their program. Although, I now see that in order to sign up, you have to specify which state you live in. Texas is not an option.
3. Take my body in/from Texas.
I, obviously, currently have no idea when or where I will be on my deathbed. Right now, the most likely scenario is that my body will be in Texas—I will be in Texas. A few weeks ago, I was on the website for Donate Life Texas (the registry that Texas DPS uses to indicate an organ donor with the heart emblem on our IDs). It was there that I discovered a more fitting organization.
I am now pledged to the program with United Tissue Network.
Bonus: UTN is a non-profit organization.
I now think of my body as a tool that I will pass on. Therefore, I must keep it in check. No student wants to study on an overweight body. No one is looking to receive a smoker’s lung nor a drunk’s liver. This creates a deeper purpose for me to sustain a healthy body.
Yoga and regular walks in this summer heat require me to keep healthy lungs. I cannot recall the last time I smoked a cigarette. If I have smoked any this year, I can guarantee that I would be able to count them on one hand.
Today marks six months of being completely void of imbibing alcohol. I have measured my sobriety by disregarding that one sip (that someone shared with me from their cocktail on January 12th). But for real for real today feels more monumental than the day I started counting. I have been entirely dry from alcohol FOR SIX MONTHS!
I was going to lay out my ideas for my future with sobriety, but I think I am going delay that until I break my current dry spell. I am now opening the door for a drink if the occasion feels right.
But that’s not today, nor tomorrow.
As always, I love and miss you dearly.
The Song*: Pretend by Seinabo Sey
*I can almost hear you singing this song.