Jess is a gorgeous girl with an insane sense of humor, shockingly rude at times (you have to be prepared for a “shock bomb” at any time of the conversation day or night) who uses lashings of humor daily, to help cope, this humour is a deeply ingrained part of her psyche as she has learnt to deal with life threatening challenges on a regular basis, from birth.
You never know how you will deal with news like this until it happens to you, I don’t know how I would deal with – I like to think I’d cope ok…but would I? At the moment, luckily for me and I hope for you, this question will remain theoretical.
Let me tell you what I know of Jess and how she appears to me. Jess lights up a room. Kids are attracted to Jess like the Pied Piper they love her devil may care attitude, her abject lack of the proper standards expected of “adults” and her musical laughter. Jess has had numerous articles written about her in the NZ Herald (one just a couple of weeks ago) and in various magazines here and overseas. Jess is currently on the waiting list for a heart and liver (double transplant – which is rare). I know its not all rainbows and Unicorns though, as I write this I can feel the tears threatening because I know that Jess has an unfair share of moments in dark places symptomatic of the path she is forced to walk, trying to make sense of it all but you want to see her like I do…Jess is an inspiration to all of us but she doesn’t aspire to be an inspiration, she just wants to live.
I recently attended a support group meeting with Jess for people waiting for transplants, it was an emotionally charged gathering of human beings that had had their “guards” torn asunder by the harsh reality of having their mortality forced upon them within a short timeline, it was a raw, visceral, sombre, funny and desperately sad affair as they worked, in unity, to try and figure out how to cope with the hand life dealt them, all the while providing much needed support to one another. It was above all a meeting to give and receive hope. We all hope for a better life, more money, better politicians, a better boss a better education system etc – here they just hope for a life, their needs focus down to simple things like some more sunrises to live with their loved ones than their current allotment of tomorrows which is now brutally defined and short. A life that allows them to do something simple like walk 20 paces without nearly passing out or a heart that operates on more than 15% capacity or a life where the concept of a word like tomorrow moves from a possibility to a reality beyond their current limits of hope which is down to maybe months or even weeks.
It’s humbling to understand how a decision you can make can around being a donor (which seems stupidly to be a morbid almost taboo topic even today with all we know) can bring so much light into the world and deliver this hope as a tangible, selfless gift, a second chance and literally – life, to many deserving fellow kiwis who are now living day to day waiting for the most important phone call of their life. Its a phone call that most of us, thankfully, will never understand the deathly (pun intended) importance of, worry about or even know is happening to our fellow kiwis out there but for these people it’s more important than winning the jackpot in lotto. Its more important to donor recipients than I hope you and I will ever need to learn about. The Phone Call is everything to them and their families. Every time the phone rings a stupid glimmer of hope sparks from deep within then the inevitable process of dealing with the disappointment that it’s not that Phone Call is managed until the next call, then the next, then the next, it becomes a skill to learn how to hold on to the hope – the support group meetings help.
Before meeting Jess I wasn’t a donor, after learning and understanding the process it opened my eyes has changed my views and now I am. This is where you can make a difference, if you want. If I can encourage you in any way I would. I’d encourage you to make a stand today and sign the petition below, to make a difference that actually means something in this crazy world, give a beautiful child, a mother, a sister, a father, a brother hope, if the unthinkable happens to you, be the person that gave them your tomorrows – wow.
With her typical attitude Jess is becoming somewhat of a poster child the donor community and is putting a petition before Parliament to encourage people to automatically become a donor (opt out), if you’d like to support this petition and give beautiful people like Jess a tomorrow, please click the link below and pass on to your family and friends to do the same.