Lighting the Way for Organ Donors

By Organ Donor Handbook, Special for  USDR

For Ha Nguyen Mix, it was a well-intentioned check in a box. For her husband Buddy, it would end up being the most difficult experience of his life, a blow that nearly felled him as he grappled with the shock of his wife’s sudden  death.

Mix has now written the handbook he wishes he’d had at that moment. Organ Donor Handbook (ISBN 978-1542399852), by Buddy Mix with Dr. Robert Mix, is available at CreateSpace, Amazon, and as a guide to families facing a loved one’s organ donation. Designed to be a quick and informative read, Organ Donor Handbook details Mix’s own experience and offers questions to consider. In the process, it becomes a roadmap for others to follow during an emotionally complex and devastating  time.

Ha, whose name means “River of Stars” in her native Vietnamese, suffered a cerebral aneurysm and died on July 31, 2016. Mix was taken aback when hospital staff informed him his wife was an organ donor. She had never discussed it with him, but it was certainly something River would  do.

For the next four days, as River lay on life support, Buddy and his sister-in-law stayed by her side. Unable to let River go as her body continued to function, Buddy was caught in a terrible limbo while transplant appointments were made and postponed again and again. When the hospital received word surgery would finally happen, Mix and his sister-in-law were able to accompany River only to the end of the hall before they were stopped with no chance for any further goodbyes: No one had told them they would need scrubs to proceed beyond those doors. Four hours later, she was gone, her organs giving five people renewed  hope.

Unprepared for the realities of organ donation and given little information by the medical professionals whose job it was to take his wife’s heart, lungs, kidneys and liver in service of saving the lives of strangers, Buddy was adrift in an ocean of grief. Seemingly endless paperwork further complicated the process as he faced life alone for the first time in 18  years.

Searching for solace in the stories of others who had walked his path, Mix could find no accounts of organ donors’ families. His brother, Dr. Robert Mix, scoured the medical literature for any mention of organ donation’s effect on loved ones; he, too, came up empty-handed. It was then Buddy decided to share his  story.

“River’s gift to five other families was loving and courageous,” said Mix. “I would expect nothing less of her. But because her family was unprepared for the realities of organ donation, the experience was exponentially more difficult and confusing than it might have been if we had had the opportunity to prepare ourselves. I wrote Organ Donor Handbook to give other families that  opportunity.”

Mix hopes to meet with the families that received Ha’s organs and share their story in the next edition of Organ Donor  Handbook.

SOURCE Organ Donor  Handbook

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