How My Son Got A New Liver: Waiting and The Car Crash Metaphor

April is National Donate Life Month and Bunny, Pip, and I want you to be very aware because without organ donation and transplant, Pip wouldn’t be with us today.

More than 115,000 men, women, and children need life-saving organ transplants right now and every 10 minutes, another name is added to the list. An average of 18 people die each day waiting for organs.

This month, I’m gonna tell Pip’s story – a little bit every day. We need to improve these statistics. Learning more and talking more and sharing more is the first step.

Waiting and The Car Crash Metaphor

(excerpted from Pip’s Caring Bridge site)

Friday, November 21, 2008 10:02 AM, CST

I’ll tell you what it’s like – for me.

It’s like standing on the sidewalk and watching a car accident in super-slow motion. The crash is going to happen – and you know it’s going to happen – and you’re powerless to stop it. But it is happening so slowly that you have lots of time to think. And sometimes you think, “Oh, they’ll swerve and miss each other” or “They’ll slow down and it won’t be more than a fender bender.” But the more you watch, the more you see that isn’t a possibility. And sometimes you think “This is going to end in a fiery explosion” and then you feel guilty for envisioning that end because it feels like you are willing it to happen.
And then, at the same time, when you gather the strength and focus to look around, the air has never felt more crisp or smelled so fresh and the colors of the leaves cause your heart to swell or the starkness of the bare trees against the sky is haunting and beautiful. Because you know that crash is coming and you know how fragile it all is.

End metaphor.

The transplant paperwork came in the mail that November.  There’s a lot of paperwork to sign.  You have to promise that you understand that your child could die during the surgery.  You have to promise that you understand that one out of ten pediatric liver transplant recipients dies during the first year after transplant.  You have to promise that you understand that the medications he will have to take could damage his kidneys so severely that he would require a kidney transplant, that he’ll be at a higher risk for several types of cancer, that his appearance may change drastically.

I generally don’t advocate lying.  I’m a super honest gal.  But in this particular case, I had to.

Because they were referring to a four-month-old baby.  They were referring to my son.

I had to sign the papers to save his life but I couldn’t understand any of it at all.


Tomorrow: Listing

If you wanna go back to the beginning and read the whole story, click this here link.

To learn more about organ donation and to make sure you’re on the registry for your state, visit

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