Nine years ago, this holiday monday

Sunday, May 20, 2007 dad got the phone call his life depended on. A new liver had been donated and his flight was leaving in a few moments for Edmonton where he would undergo an all day liver transplant surgery.

Every year around this time I get to thinking about the family who lost their loved one, and had the courage and forethought to make their loved ones organs available.

After Dad's transplant, the organ donation team offered to give the donors family a letter from us. Dad asked me to prepare one and we sent it off.

I found it today, and all the memories came rushing back.

I am a grateful man for those extra years my Dad had with us.

Here's to those who sign the donor part of their health card. It is a gift of life that we offer.

Thank you.


Dear Donor Family;

My father was a recipient of your loved one’s liver, late in May of this year. I have wanted to write you for some time to thank you for this gift of life. I guess I kept putting it off as dad has had a long series of setbacks and struggles that have brought him near death a few times. Right now he seems to be doing well - more good days than bad, and I need to express to you my gratitude.

Dad began to get sick over three years ago. He was informed that he had a genetic disease, and that his liver was dying. Since then we have watched him deteriorate, month by month. He lost his health, his business, his savings, and some days, his hope.

For he and my mom, and us as kids, the one thing that got us through was the hope of a liver transplant. How we clung to that hope, when everything else seemed hopeless. We waited and watched as dad got sicker. Many times we wondered if he was too far gone, that the Doctors would give up on him and send him home with no hope. Our Faith, usually strong, was tested deeply those days.

One weekend this spring, my wife and I and our four kids went to see mom and dad. We wanted to spend a little time with them, and get my kids a few more memories and pictures with their “Papa”. As we drove home that evening, my wife and I talked about “what if”: what if there wasn’t a liver for him? What if he would die? Shouldn’t we start saying our goodbyes, rather than living like “Everything will be ok WHEN we get a new liver?”

We spoke our fears till late into the night. We talked about the gap he would leave behind if he were to go; about my Mom’s and siblings needs, about possible funeral arrangements, and finances. We slept restlessly that night.

Early the next morning the phone rang. It was dad. He said that Edmonton had called and they had a possible liver. He would be on a plane within the hour. The next two days were an emotional roller coaster ride as we waited and prayed, and waited and prayed.

Since that week there have been many up’s and down’s, but we are grateful for each day we have with Dad. My kids have been able to go and stay over for the night at their house, and they have enjoyed it so much. Papa is better and their prayers answered.

On behalf of my wife and our four kids, on behalf of my three siblings, my mom and dad, on behalf of myself and many, many friends and family, we want to thank you for you’re your act of love, and your gift of life. Your loved one’s donation continues to give life, and all that comes with it, to my father. We will be forever grateful.

Also know that we are praying for you, especially during the times of year when the loss of your loved one will be brought into sharp focus. As we are preparing to spend Christmas with my parents, please know that your gift has made the difference. Thank you.

Gratefully Yours
Randall Friesen

1 comment

  1. What a poignant letter - I imagine the donor family was very grateful. We just don't realize how important those little signature cards with our licences really are and the potential they have to change lives in an instant.

    Hope you & your family are well - C&C


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