If you know me, you know that there are some things that I really really feel strongly about. There aren't a whole lot of them, but they exist, which makes them even more special. This is one of those things.

I suppose I should introduce my dad for those of you who don't really know me. It really started around 1995 when I was about four or five years old. Some years before, my dad had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, a liver disease that can and will kill if left untreated. At this point in time, however, the disease started becoming a bigger and bigger issue looming over us. I had just begun to comprehend the magnitude of the disease, and the possible consequences. My dad was getting sicker and sicker. He was reduced to sleeping for the majority of the day, a massive change from a man who used to run miles in the mornings. Needless to say, it was scary. However, hope was in our eyes. Around that time, he was near number one on the list for a liver transplant. For those unfamiliar with the idea, a transplant would remove his liver that had been so badly damaged by the disease, and give him a new liver that hopefully is compatible with his body. Any number of things can go wrong, but meanwhile, the disease got worse by the day.

To make a long story short, that liver didn't quite work out. His body was not able to adjust to that particular liver, due to some factor that we do not know about at this point in time. After many more years of stress, he made his way back up the list for another liver. This was a big deal. We lucked out big time. Twice. Through some combination of miracles, excellent doctors, and general modern wonders, he is still alive today, which we are all thankful for.

Unfortunately, there are lots of other people who aren't quite so lucky. Many people don't survive the time it takes for whatever organ they need to become available. Right now, there are about 110,500 people waiting on the list for transplantation. Every day, about 20 people across the United States die waiting for an organ. On average, every 11 minutes, somebody else gets added to the list.

The numbers are pretty grim, but there's a way to make a difference. Talk to the people around you, including your family members, and other people close to you. Talk to them about donating your organs in the event of your death. After reading this, I hope that you'll see why it really is that important. If you have any questions about organ donation, you might find the organdonor.gov Frequently Asked Questions to be helpful. And once you've discussed it with your folks and you've chosen to give others the gift of life later on, you can sign up in your state's donor registry.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions, or if you just want more information, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me! You can find my contact information here.

Joshua Wise, 2004-05-23

Epilogue 2007-06-10: On March 2nd, 2005, Jeffrey Wise passed away. His disease finally weakened his system to the point that his liver could no longer effectively filter blood, and the rest of his body progressively deteriorated. At 4:40pm, his body shut down fully. Goodbye, Dad.