The Why Day

The Why Day

Mark Twain once said “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”  

I believe we can all say we have the first day nailed down, the day we were born was very important, not only in our lives, but in the lives of our parents. The day we were born truly was the first day of the rest of our life. It was a day that set in motion a vast, infinite amount of paths that have lead us right were we are today. Now, where we are  has been a result of decisions, circumstances and conclusions that have had many forks in the road and it has been up to us to choose which way to go. All of these paths should have led us to the second part of Twain’s statement, “…the day you find out why.”  I am not sure about you, but after fifty three years I am still looking for that flashing neon sign that says, “Today is the day you find out why.”

After I read Twain’s quote, for what I believe, was the very first time, I began to think long and hard about “the why day.” Was it the day I was born? Was Twain insinuating that both days were actually the same day. I know the minute I arrived in this world I had no true thought process, although, I am sure I was tired from the move and I have no doubt I was hungry. But was that day in October many years ago my day to know why? It could have been for my parents, because like all parents, we feel the day our children are born is the greatest day of our lives. We feel like that is why we are put on this earth. to keep the human race moving forward by bringing new life into existence, but is that wonderful day a “why” day? Or could the “why” day be a day you, through no conscious effort, change the life of someone you did not even know? A simple act of emptying the change from your car into the hands of a hungry person who has been down on their luck. Could it be a loving word of encouragement that brings someone back from depression and the darkest thoughts of suicide. Could your day have been yesterday when you showed a random act of kindness and an anonymous onlooker with the hardest of hearts began to soften and realize the joy of compassion. Could your day have unknowingly already passed or is it still waiting to arrive? How do we find out what day our why day is? A question so many will spend a life time asking and may never get the answer.

A life time. To many, this statement means longevity, years of living, years of experiences, years of family and years of love. To me, so far, it has been fifty three years. To others it was only a few hours, a few days, a few months or seventeen years. To the ones that only made it a few days, a few months or seventeen years, I feel they are looking down and know beyond a shadow of a doubt what their “why day” was, it was the day, if they were organ donors, they became a hero. It was the newborn that passed away in their mothers arms. It was the toddler that fought the most courageous fight against a disease they never heard of. It was the father of two that worked every day to save lives running into burning buildings. The mom that said an oath to protect and serve so we could all sleep in peace. It was a beautiful seventeen year old young woman, it was my daughter. It has been every organ donor that has been a hero and a life saver. Lindsay, my daughter, lived a lifetime in seventeen years. She was the one giving her change to a down and out person, she was the one sitting and listening to a friend and bringing them back from a very dark place, she was the one showing a random act of kindness to those who felt unwanted, unliked, or shunned by the popular crowd. She was a leader, she was a sister, she was a friend and she was an organ donor. In my heart and mind she had many days that I thought were her “why day,” but I am almost positive, the lives that she saved would think differently. I have accomplished a lot in my life, and because of Lindsay I have accomplished so much more. I have stood behind a podium many times in front of hospital CEO’s, surgeons, doctors, nurses and family members of other organ donors and told Lindsay’s story. I have become the President of a foundation that we, her four parents, started to continue her legacy and to support the charities Lindsay was involved with. I started a blog for my own therapy and to help other grieving parents. I have become a published author, to help share how I, a father, handled and am still handling the loss of a child, and to hopefully help the next father understand he is not alone. But my “why day” is still yet to come, my day will come with the same sadness and grief that is shared by so many everyday. My “why day” will be my last, when I close my eyes for the last time and know in the depths of my soul, “why.” My day will also bring joy to random strangers and their families as they know their love ones now have a fighting chance. Strangers that in the mist of their joy, morn for the donor and their family. My day will come when I am standing beside Lindsay and we both know our two most important days and why.

Please, if you have not registered to be an organ donor,

let today be the day

you know your

why.

 

 

Be a donor..

Be a donor..

I was asked to speak at Wilmington Christian Academy during National Donate Life Month on organ donation and being part of a donor family. Through all the personal experiences and research I felt I should share this information with you. So I have inserted a portion of my speech below.

I would like to ask all of you a question… How many of you watched the super bowl this year?? Okay, well for those of you who did not it was played at the US Bank stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This stadium holds 66,955 people at capacity. Now imagine a second stadium sitting right next to the US Bank stadium it also filled to capacity, that’s 133,910 people, that is approximately how many people are waiting for a life saving organ transplant in the United States today. Every ten minutes someone in the United States is added to the national donor list. That is six people an hour and 144 people a day. Now, on average there are 92 people saved every day with a lifesaving transplant. On the other hand, an average of 20 people a day pass away while still waiting for a transplant. One donor can save up to eight lives, 8! Last year on average over 6000 people a day passed away in the United States from various causes. If everyone in the United States were an organ donor the 20 that pass away daily, while waiting for a transplant would have a fighting chance. In 2016 there were 33,600 transplants and in 2017 there were 34,000. As you can see every year the number rises. The first transplant performed in the United States took place in 1954. It was a living transplant between twin brothers. One brother gave the other a kidney. Since then, mainly starting in 1988, over 683,000 successful transplants have taken place in the United States. There are a lot of variables that come into play when an organ transplant is performed. The recipient patient and the donor patient must match in a variety of different areas, blood and tissue type being the major factors before moving forward. Another factor, if the patients match, is time. There are only hours between patients if a successful transplant is going to take place. For instance, there is a four-hour window on a heart transplant. That’s four hours to get the heart from point A to point B. Imagine if you lived in Hawaii or Alaska and you needed a heart transplant your percentage for getting a heart would be greatly decreased. Even living on an opposite coast would be pushing the envelope for the time allowed. There is some good news on the time line for transplants. While speaking at a meeting in Durham N.C. for Carolina Donors Services I saw a presentation from Duke Medical Hospital. They have a concept for a new device that will double the time allowed to transport a heart for transplant. This new device will add precious hours to save the lives of many, lives that before would not have a chance.

Let’s bring things a little closer to home. In the state of North Carolina there are 3,140 people waiting for an organ transplant. Out of the 3,140, there are 2,686 waiting on a kidney. Since 1988 there have been 21,140 lives saved or changed due to organ transplants. The largest age group for these recipients is 50-64. On the donor side there have been 5,679 donors since 1988. The largest age group for donors are between the ages 18-34. That is 3.72 lives saved per donor. Lindsay was able to save 3 lives, allowed 2 people to see for the rest of their life and help untold numbers of people by having her heart donated for research.

There are many myths concerning organ donation and they are all just that, MYTH’S.

  1. You can’t be an organ donor if you are too young or too old.

This myth can be disproved by the oldest donor in the world. She was 107 years old, lived in Scotland, and donated her corneas so that someone else could have better sight. The oldest donor in the United States was 92. This donor donated their liver to save a life. Sadly, you are also never to young to be a donor. There have been several new borns that have lost their lives during or shortly after birth that have become donors. No one is too young or too old to be an organ donor; the condition of your organs is more important than age.

  1. Doctors don’t work with the same urgency to save your life if they know you’re an organ donor.

It is the job, and the passion of every doctor, nurse, and first responder to save lives. They have all taken an oath to perform whatever medical procedures are necessary to save a life. I can assure you this myth is untrue. Lindsay received the best care possible from the second she arrived at the hospital until the second she passed away. There was never a question of her care, or treatment. That care continued after Lindsay passed away, a representative from Carolina Donors Service escorted her into the operating room. There he introduced Lindsay to the entire staff and stayed with her throughout the entire surgery.

  1. If you’re not in great health, you shouldn’t sign up to be a donor.

You may be surprised that most health conditions do not disqualify you from donating your organs and tissues. While you may not be able to donate certain organs, other organs and/or tissues may be perfectly fine. Doctors and donor personal will assess your organs at the time of death to determine if they can be donated.

  1. Doctors will take all of your organs, even if you only want to donate one.

Another myth I can put to rest, you or your love ones can specify what organs are to be donated. After the consultation with donor services a legal document is signed stating the specific organs to be donated. And as I stated before, a representative will accompany your love one the entire time.

There is a lot more information concerning myths with organ donation on the DMV website along with Donate Life and Carolina Donor Services. Please feel free to look up and read all the myths about organ donation. If you have any questions or concerns you can contact me or anyone in my immediate family and we will do our best to put your concerns to rest.

 

Becoming An Organ Donor

You can become an organ donor in a variety of ways. You can go to Carolina Donor Services or Donate Life and register, we were suprised to learn you can register on line from the age of thirteen on up. You can register at the DMV when you get your license, you can even register using your HEALTH app on your iPhone. If you have registered and are passed the age of eighteen the hospital and the donor coordinator does not need your parent’s permission to proceed with starting the process, but as in Lindsay’s case being she was seventeen, the donor services needed our permission. Once you register online or at the DMV it is a legal binding contract, but there is no donor service that will go against the wishes of the  family. The time in which a love one has passed away is not the time to force the issue. They are in enough pain and have had their hearts truly broken. This is why what I am about to tell you is the most important part of becoming an organ donor. Have a conversation with your family about what your wishes are. Let them know you are a donor, or want to become a donor. Let them know you want to help save lives, let them know you want to take the pain and devastation and turn it into something positive. As a donor father I will tell you knowing Lindsay was a donor does not help in her loss, it does not help everyday when I miss her so bad it hurts, it does not help when I think about what she could have accomplished, but what it does do, it makes me proud to be her father, it makes me proud that we, as a family, helped fulfill her dream to save lives.

Please, if you are not an organ donor consider becoming one. There are so many lives that are effected by checking that tiny black box.

Rewind…

Rewind…

This is week thirty four of me posting my blogs. I never realized it would reach so many people. Never in a million years would I ever think my words would be read in over thirty countries by thousands of people. I can only hope it has brought some sort of healing to another grieving parent, and some understanding to those looking in from the outside.

Today I am going to reintroduce myself, Lindsay and my family. I want to give you an update on what the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation has accomplished in the past year and let you know where we are heading this year.

For those of you who do not know me my name is Brad Benton, I am Jarrett and Lindsay Benton’s father. I am writing this blog for two reasons, one, it is very therapeutic for me and two, I’d like to share what I have learned as a grieving father.

As many of you know Lindsay was in a car accident on August 21, 2016, it was the Sunday before her first day of class for her senior year. After an emergency surgery, and a week in the STICU at NHRMC Lindsay passed away the following Sunday, August 28, 2016. She was 17 years old.

Lindsay, was a lifetime student at Wilmington Christian Academy and was to be co-captain of WCA cheerleaders, a sport she loved. Lindsay had a dream to be a doctor, a saver of lives and a leader in the medical field. She always knew she had a calling in this field and it changed from one concentration to another until she attended the National Youth Leadership Forum for Medicine at Chapel Hill the summer of 2016. During the nine days she spent at UNC she decided she wanted to be a Trauma Surgeon. My favorite message from her during that week was “Dad, I am having the time of my life.”

She wanted to help people; she wanted to use her passion to be the best surgeon she could possibly be, she wanted to mend broken lives. Well, in her passing, her dreams were fulfilled, as she was an organ donor and through organ donation she mended and saved lives.  Little did we know how many lives Lindsay touched during her time here on this earth. We have heard story after story of her “therapy” sessions, her kindness to strangers and her ability to bring reason to difficult situations. To quote one of her tweets, “Don’t ever argue with me, you will lose.” I am assuming she was not including me in that tweet. She was a tenacious, head strong and independent young woman who had her entire life planned out.

She had an infectious smile, a steely stare, and a contagious room shattering laugh. She could melt your heart or make you pound your fist against the wall. She could debate any topic like a pro, and not give up until her point was across. She would hold the smallest of creations with the gentlest hands but she would beat a punching bag until her knuckles bled, and she used gloves. She was a friend, a leader, a captain, an advocate, a lover of life and her guinea pigs. She was also a daughter, and sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin and a friend to many. As parents we think we know our children, but we have come to find we did not know how many lives our daughter had touched. What a blessing it has been to meet so many wonderful people through this.

She was my little girl, she was a big part of my heart, she was my Lindsay Lou.

Although we all miss Lindsay dearly, her legacy lives on through the Lindsay M. Benton Cheer and Art Fund at Wilmington Christian Academy in adjacent with the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation. The Cheer and Art Fund was established to help the cheerleaders and the parents at WCA. Our goal, through this fund, is to help with some of the cost the parents incur and to allow the cheerleader’s to gain equipment, help with some travel expenses and allow them to be the absolute best they can be. Be the best they can possibly be, this was a goal of Lindsay’s. Through the Lindsay M. Benton Cheer and Art fund the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation also funds the Lindsay M Benton Cheer Scholarship. This scholarship is presented to a cheer leader that is in good standing and has been excepted to a secondary educational institution to peruse a career in medicine.

The Lindsay M. Benton Foundation was established to bring awareness to organ donation and the importance of donor registration. The Foundation will also financially contribute to Carolina Donor Services, Patriots In Pink, The New Hanover County Special Olympics, as well as the Lindsay M Benton Cheer and Art fund at Wilmington Christian Academy.   We will have one major fundraiser, a volleyball tournament, each year and this year it will be on Lindsay’s birthday September 29th at Capt’n Bill’s in Wilmington NC.  We would love for each of you to come and be a part of Lindsay’s legacy.

Th First Year:

lmbf logo

Our first year was hard, it was emotional, it was heartbreaking but it was also rewarding. We are thrilled to announce that we, as a collective group, were able to raise $8,900.00 in ONE DAY at the First Annual Lindsay M. Benton Volleyball Tournament. The total amount raised the first year of Lindsay M. Benton Foundation was over $19,000.00! We were so honored to be able to donate $4,000.00 to Pretty in Pink, New Hanover Special Olympics and Carolina Donor Services! (Our goal was $1,000.00 each!) We were also able to donate $2,250.00 to the Lindsay M. Benton Cheer, Art & Scholarship Fund at Wilmington Christian Academy as well as $500.00 towards the 2017 Patriots in Pink Fundraiser to help Going Beyond the Pink. 

 We as a family, and representing the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation, were asked to attend and speak at conferences, symposiums, state meetings and to hospital staff. This was also emotional, as we relived the day of Lindsay’s accident and the day she passed away, but it was also rewarding to see the smiles, the tears and the hear how Lindsay and our family has touched so many lives. speakl 2 We will continue to speak and tell Lindsay’s story as well as the importance of becoming an organ donor. April is Donate Life month and April 13th is Blue / Green day. Wilmington Christian Academy has asked that we attend their daily chapel on April 10th and share the importance of being an organ donor. I have asked that a special guest join us, the special guest is the recipient of a very special kidney, Lindsay’s. She will be sharing the recipient side of organ donation and how it has changed her life and her families life.

 

Please visit the foundation website at http://www.lindsaymbentonfoundation.com for so much more information on Lindsay, and the foundation. We can also be found on Facebook and Instagram. Please consider being a sponsor, a volunteer, or donating to the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation. Mark your calendars for September 29, 2018 and make your way to Wilmington NC, Capt’n Bill Backyard Grill at 4240 Market St. You can also register your 4 person co-ed team for the tournament the week before the twenty-ninth.

Thank you so much for all the support, love and understanding you have shown me and my family. Please continue to keep us in your prayers and please continue to support the Lindsay M. Benton Foundation.