Vermont residents age 15 or older can join the Donate Life Registry online or at the DMV. Enrolling as an organ, eye and tissue donor can save the lives of up to eight people and enhance the lives of countless others.
Click below to register online today!
The best day of my life was January 12, 1994, the day my brother Tom donated a kidney to me and changed the rest of my life. If not for his sacrifice, I would probably have passed away by now. I can't overstate what a difference our transplant made in my life.
I ended up in the Emergency Room one Sunday in 1984 after spending a day splitting wood with a maul. I was 33 years old. After 3 hours of the worst pain I have ever experienced, I was told by the doctor that I had a kidney disease and would need dialysis or a transplant.
Before I could comprehend the meaning of the doctor's words, my brother Tom, who'd brought me to the hospital, said, "He can have one of mine." Tom and I had lost our other two brothers, and there had been nothing we could do to save them. Keven, the youngest, was born with a severe case of Cerebral Palsy and died of pneumonia when I was twelve. Mike, my Irish twin, only eleven months younger, had become Schizophrenic at age 23 and taken his life four years later, despite the support and intervention of the entire family. I knew why Tom spoke up so promptly. Here was a chance to save a brother. I would have done the same, though it probably would have taken me longer to think of saying it.
Fast forward ten years. I met with Cathy Pratt, the Transplant Coordinator at Dartmouth Hitchcock and with a nutritionist and a social worker. I joined a support group and met people with transplants, people on dialysis and people like me, still maintaining kidney function. In the end we decided to dive in. I was on dialysis for seven weeks before our planned surgery. I’m glad I had that experience because it helps me to appreciate what a difference having a transplant can make.
Even on dialysis I was so tired that I could only do my job, working with students in an elementary school, for four hours a day. At noon I would go home, eat lunch and sleep for half the afternoon. My weight dropped by twenty pounds. I had little appetite and less energy.
Tom was a perfect match. The only way to improve the match would have been if he were my twin. That was almost 27 years ago.
How has my transplant changed my life?
The year after my transplant I started walking up the hill to the end of our dirt road and back, a mile and a half, each morning. The following year I started running and that summer I entered a few 5K races. The year after that I started to ride my bike to work. By the time I turned 50, my daily commute was 50 miles. The year I turned 60 I rode my single-speed bike 193 miles, from Derby Line Quebec to the Massachusetts border in 16 hours.
I am 69 years old now and I built a tiny house for myself this fall without any help. I had given up things like bike riding and playing softball as my kidney function declined. It is unlikely that I would have taken them up again on dialysis. Organ donation is absolutely the gift of life and I hope you will consider it.
In April of 2009 Michael's Luchini’s family said goodbye to him when he was only 43 years old. Tragically, Michael suffered smoke inhalation in a fire that also took the family home of 45 years in South Burlington, Vermont. As Michael’s passing was unexpected, the family hadn’t given much thought to organ donation and Michael never made his wishes known.
When first approached with this idea the family tried to focus on what Michael would have wanted. We quickly concluded this is what he would have wished for knowing his caring nature towards others. Despite this being an extraordinarily emotional time, working through the process of organ donation was an experience difficult to put into words.
As the family learned more about the donation process, realizing how rare it is to be a candidate for donation, they began to wish for ‘just one’ organ. We all remember the moment when we received the call and learned we indeed had a match. The feeling was one of mixed emotions. Within less than 48 hours, Michael’s kidney would soon be part of someone else, giving this individual the chance at life.
It has been more than eleven years since Michael’s passing and the family continues to share their story with others. Telling people of Michael’s passing is not only hard to say, it can be equally as hard to see how others react. Being able to share the story of his donation quickly turns the conversation to a more positive light.
Organ donation is truly one of the most selfless acts a human can offer. Knowing there is someone living today as a direct result of a gift they received from Michael makes the pain of losing someone who was loved so much a bit more bearable. Little did the family know at the time that the notion of ‘just one’ is far more powerful than they ever thought.
The family had the honor of being part of the Rose Bowl Parade in 2013, holding Michael's photo as people watched the float make its 5 1/2 mile journey down Colorado Boulevard as people smiled with tears in their eyes. A wonderful tribute to Michael and all donors & recipients too.