How Do You Say Thanks?

How Do You Say Thanks for a Heart?

A Meditation for Holy Week

While my husband was recovering from a stem cell transplant at the Mayo Clinic, I met a remarkable young man who had just had a heart transplant.

Thirty-seven-year-old Scott was the father of two preschoolers who were his major motivation for survival.  But as his condition weakened, he feared the coveted heart he so desperately needed to save his life might never materialize.  Then on a quiet Nebraska summer evening his phone rang.

“Scott, this is Joan from the Mayo Clinic.  We have a heart.  We need you here in three hours.  Four at the most.”

Getting from Omaha, Nebraska, to Rochester, Minnesota, in that length of time with no advance notice was a challenge.  The Mayo’s private plane was grounded by a local thunderstorm.  Scott and his wife and his father, all on separate cell phones, frantically went down their list of companies with corporate jets and pilots who had agreed to provide transportation for transplant patients.  Finally, they found an available plane with a pilot.

Just before Scott was wheeled into surgery that night, one of the transplant cardiologists said, “You know that there are no guarantees with this.  You need to be aware that you may not make it off the table.”

“I will,” Scott said.  “I’ve got to.”

After a delicate eight-hour procedure, he was moved into ICU.  Recovery and rehab were lengthy and tedious, and he had a lot of time to think.  He began to be haunted by the fact that someone had to die so he could live.

He had questions about his donor, but because the Mayo’s policies protect the confidentiality of the donor’s family, the coordinator gave no answers.  She promised only to pass along to the donor family a letter from Scott if he chose to write one.

Though he may never know the age or gender or the circumstances of the donor’s death, Scott wrote a letter to the donor’s family.

“But it was so hard,” Scott says.  “How do you write to this hurting family and say thank you for a gift as monumental as a heart?”

Good question.

There is Someone who died so we can live.  His name is Jesus Christ.

We deserve to be punished for our sins, but He stepped in and said, “Here, let me take care of it.  I’ll take your place.”

How do you say thanks for the monumental gift of a new heart?

Maybe the best we can do is to simply say, “Thank you.  I know I don’t deserve it, but I accept your generosity.  By your grace, help me to make you proud.”

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

© Copyright, Sharon Sheppard