Caring Beyond Ourselves

March 1, 2010
by Freda Van Winkle

Philippians 2:4 – Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others. (AMP)

During his lifetime, my husband Roger was a scuba diver, and built himself a ski boat. He was also an excellent photographer, and built his own airplane, from which, for farmers, he took aerial photos of ditches. He also toured over a hundred thousand miles on a BMW motorcycle. He is the pecan and walnut tree expert that people call for advice, and he grafted five different kinds of apples onto one apple tree. There just wasn't much he couldn't do.

It takes great courage to see him now, with Parkinson's disease. Very seldom does he shake, but there is no muscle strength left, so in this condition, he is not even able to shave himself. We are grateful, however, that he still has his sharp mind. Unlike my friend who told me that the worst day of her life was the one on which her husband entered extended health care, I thank God daily since October 15th for Roger's good care, because physically I could not do it any more.

My contribution now is taking the laptop over to entertain him and play DVDs and VHS tapes of our motorhome trips and life out west, which he considers to be one of the happiest times of our lives. I just got back from showing him one of his flights on which he held the camera and even filmed landing on the runway. Some of the nurses came in and watched. He had several of them as students when he was a school teacher or principal for thirty-eight years.

The Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, was the first to encourage Roger to donate his brain to science after death, because of the inherited type of Parkinson's that he has. When he first told me that he wanted to do that, I was reluctant to accept his plan. Donated brains have to be at the research centre within six hours of the death of the donor. But when I considered how this malady has afflicted so many members of his family, I had to think of our children and grandchildren. It took a lot of prayer, but I agreed. It has been arranged with the funeral home and the Indiana University Medical Center.

I realize that Scripture is silent on the matter of donating organs for scientific research or for transplant when they are no longer needed. For me, it was an act of faith to agree to it — a personal decision with no specific guidance in Scripture. I don't intend to tell readers that such a decision is right for them — who can tell how God's will might be performed by making such a decision? For example, a fellow with whom I used to teach lost his son in an accident. Paul's heart was given to a doctor who would have not made it without a heart transplant. The doctor actually came and talked to our class after he was well enough.

In many jurisdictions, when renewing a driver's license, we can indicate that we want to be an organ donor. This information is transferred to a databank of possible donors.

What an amazing opportunity we have to be able to donate organs and give the gift of life! It's an opportunity we all should consider taking advantage of.

Prayer: O God, we give thanks for the loving ones who have seen to caring beyond themselves, who have displayed love for others by donating the gift of life, prolonging someone's life or furthering research into some of the hitherto incurable maladies. Amen.

About the author:

Freda Van Winkle
Warren, Indiana, USA

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