- Eyes On
For the typical person turning 21, their birthday is a day of celebration as they enter the next phase of adulthood.
For Botkins native Rachel Doseck, she had to celebrate her 21st birthday on Sunday in the Intensive Care Unit at the Cleveland Clinic on the hospital’s transplant list.
“She is very ill and she will remain there until she receives a heart transplant so the family is hoping and praying someone is out there who has signed up as an organ donor to save her life,” said Cathi R. Arends, who is the community relations director for Life Connection of Ohio’s Dayton regional office. “When she was first admitted, she was able to get on Facebook and post messages and ask for prayers, but now it is mostly her family who is getting on and keeping everybody in the loop.
“I think she is listed in status 1B, but there is a chance because of the seriousness of her condition that she will move to the top of the list,” she said. “This would be helpful in her hopefully getting that second chance.”
She recently contracted the flu and her body rejected her heart, similar to the situation she experienced 10 years ago when she developed flu-like symptions and physicians learned her case was more serious than the flu or pneumonia — she needed a heart transplant. From her diagnosis to receiving the heart transplant took three months.
She received a heart transplant on June 19, 2002.
So Rachel has been in this position before and prevailed.
“She turns 21 tomorrow (Sunday) and I am certain it probably is not where she wants to be celebrating, but I think it really shows that organ donation and transplantation can effect any of us,” Arends said Saturday at the Wapakoneta Family YMCA where she had a booth to talk to people about the importance of being an organ donor. “Most 21-year-olds are not thinking about spending their birthday in an ICU waiting to live, but that could be any of our children, a neighbor, a college roommate, a son, a daughter, a father, a mother, a sister or a brother — that is why we really want to encourage people to think about organ donation because one person can make a huge difference.”
Arends said she is sure Rachel would have wanted to be at the Wapakoneta Family YMCA helping Arends and Wapakoneta resident Vickie Wehner. Rachel, now a college student, devoted a lot of her time in the past serving as an ambassador for Life Connection of Ohio since she was 16.
Her mother, Theresa Doseck said, “Knowing Rachel, she wants the community to know, the need for a transplant can affect any of us at any time. There are so many people out there, just like Rachel in desperate need of a hero, an organ donor.”
Rachel and her mother preach one person can save up to eight lives.
Vickie Wehner knows it. Her husband, Doug, died in a motorcycle crash over the Fourth of July holiday in 2009. She said physicians believe he suffered a brain aneurysm before his crash.
He wanted to serve as an organ donor and “his gift of life” helped more than eight people, his wife said. He donated his heart, kidneys, liver and soft tissue.
Those events changed Vickie’s life, too. At the time, she had a toddler and was pregnant. Today, her 6-year-old daughter, Stella, and 3-year-old son, Milton, talk about “daddy being a hero” and her daughter knows her father’s heart saved the life of another man.
“Even though we had a tragic, tragic loss, we, at least, could find some comfort in that loss knowing we had helped numerous people and knowing four people’s lives were saved and numerous people’s lives were improved,” Vickie said. “We can’t make the situation disappear, we can’t turn back time and make it go away, but at least this is comforting knowing we could help other families.”
Before the crash, she said the decision to be an organ donor was reached after they talked about helping others in this way. She remarked her husband, who rode a motorcycle and worked at a high-risk construction job climbing huge towers, spoke about his desire to be an organ donor if anything happened — noting he “couldn’t take his organs with him so he would want to help other people.”
Arends, who noted the organ donation decision is more prevalent with youngsters, said she understands that organ donation is a personal decision and she encourages everyone to sign up. The most recent statistics show 54 percent are registered, but 90 percent of Americans believe organ donation is the right thing to do.
“We want to encourage people to think that it can hit home at any given time,” Arends said. “Some people think it will never happen to me, but nobody expects to find themselves on that transplant waiting list. A virus can occur or something unexpected can happen — we have lots of people in this community who need help and the only thing that will help them is just an ordinary person, in advance of their death, to be an organ donor. You can save a life through organ donation and what better legacy than to save a life.
“We are here today (Saturday) at the swim meet with all these swimmers and you see all the energy, all the pride and the love of these families and that is what donations are about — we want to keep families together, we want to keep them intact, we don’t want someone to pass away because of a lack of an organ. We want to bring hope to Rachel and others who are waiting,” she said. “I would love to see a Rachel effect, people inspired to become organ donations.”