One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

Monday, March 28, 2005

maybe I'm wrong

I'm a little sad. April is National Donate Life month to promote awareness of organ and tissue donation. Naturally, this is a cause dear to my heart and I've volunteered to help out at a few events. When I found out that one of our local libraries would have a display in their front case for the month, I offered to contact them to see if I could put together a story hour for older kids on the topic of transplants. Of course I realized that this is perhaps not a topic best broached by a stranger with very young children, but I do assume that by 10 or 12 most kids are mentally equipped to deal with a matter-of-fact and non-gory talk about organ donation and transplants. And if they aren't, I suppose that their parents would simply not bring them. I even have several books written on the subject and aimed at kids as young as 7 or 8 (one written by a kindergarten teacher who received a heart transplant and one by a 12-year-old who received a liver transplant). Along with the story, I told the librarian that I had some songs written and performed by a girl waiting for a transplant (Haley, again), and also some bookmarks and balloons for the kids. I wondered about the type of questions I might get, but thought I would be able to handle them in a reassuring fashion. After a long wait to hear back from the library, they finally called me to tell me that they could not do it. The official reason given was that they could not justify staff time put into an event that might have such low turnout. When I assured her that I would be happy to do the work putting it together, she pointed out that advertising it would still require staff hours. Ahem. I thought of offering to take the 5 minutes it might take to zip off a letter or email to the paper to get it publicized, but I was beginning to realize that the staffing hours probably weren't the issue. The problem was that they didn't really want to talk about this issue, at least not with kids, even older kids. Don't get me wrong on this. I don't think that the library staff are anti-organ-donation. But it seems that, while it's OK to throw up a few signs about it, actually talking about it is imagined to be like negotiating a minefield. Maybe they're right, and it was a crazy idea to think that you could talk to kids about this stuff. But my daughter is going to be going to school with kids like these in a few years. I don't think it will take very long for a classmate to ask about her swollen belly or her scars dotting both arms, her neck, and outlining the strange and shifted topography of an abdomen opened and contents rearranged 5 times. And I can't help but feel that the idea of transplant still has the aura of the unnatural and taboo. Some sort of witchcraft that is miraculous in its results, but best not mentioned in friendly conversation. I would so love it if I felt like we could talk to kids about stuff like this because I fear not talking about it will leave my little girl feeling strange and excluded someday in the not so distant future. I'll call the other library tomorrow.


Blogger ocelot said...

Good to hit up the other library. Different places will have things they're receptive to (being run by different people and all). It's sometimes hard to relate to an issue if you don't see it directly in your life. Annika's classes will be a great audience for transplant education, as everyone will relate to it because they know Annika. Of course, that also puts Annika on the spot.

Just being you and sharing with the world helps with education. I feel closer to transplant issues than ever before, simply because of this blog. I'm on the marrow donor list, but have never been exposed to the personal side of the experience before.

3/29/2005 7:18 AM  
Blogger Bettie Bookish said...

I am so glad you found my blog, because now I've found yours. Amazing stuff. Thank you.

3/29/2005 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awww Moreena - I hope Ani never has to feel strange or excluded because of her transplant. Wouldn't it be great if people could see what a wonderful thing this is - to be able to give the gift of life to someone? Honestly, I just can't imagine some looking at it as if's wrong or unnatural. Some people are so ignorant!

I have a close friend who received a kidney transplant. I thank God that she was allowed this second chance at life - a chance to live a pretty normal life - raising her two boys. I am also thankful for the selfless family who allowed their loved-one's organs to be donated. I hope they take comfort in knowing how many benefitted from their son's donations.

I hope you have better luck at the other library!


3/29/2005 8:28 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

I hope you have more success at the other library. Kids need to be informed of this and other important issues from a young age.

3/29/2005 7:59 PM  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Good luck at the other library, Moreena. I'm reminded of a high school friend who was too ashamed of battling serious illness to ever talk to her friends about it. To this day I don't know what illness she suffers from, though she eventually had a liver transplant.

But I bet anything that my friend internalized the disease-as-taboo idea from her parents. Your willingness to discuss the issue in the community assures that Annika will never have to deal with that, no matter what questions she may someday get at school.

3/29/2005 9:33 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Don't give up! I'm doing a radio interview that will air during a "family morning commute" time, and I'm giving a speech the following week to high schoolers about organ donation. Going to the library is a GREAT idea! Keep at them about this!

3/30/2005 5:09 PM  
Blogger PPB said...

Good move to try the other library. They just might need to hear it a lot before they believe it's real. I'm also thrilled that blogger comments are again working!! woohoo!! I just might post 8 times todayin celebration!

3/30/2005 5:35 PM  
Blogger Sarahlynn said...

How did it go at the other library?

Helping Ellie to be proud of her scars is something I think will be hard to do in this culture . . . Clearly you're doing a wonderful just with Annika.

3/31/2005 12:47 AM  
Blogger Yankee T said...

Be strong and keep trying. Organ donation should be a fact of life now, not an oddity. What you are doing, or want to do is important and valid and not too scary at all. Children are the best audience for these issues because they can make them part of their lives before they close off any little sections of their minds. Persevere with your bloggy friends behind you!

3/31/2005 2:56 PM  
Blogger angela marie said...

Keep trying Moreena.

There still is a stigma attached to it, I think, and I can't figure out exactly why. The more we talk about it, the better.

4/03/2005 9:09 AM  

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