April’s ‘Mini Monthly Mission’

April 14th, 2010 - filed under: Furthermore » Monday Monthly Mission

I hesitate to call this mission ‘mini’, as its scope is only small in terms of time required. As far as importance and impact, this act is huge. Life-saving, even.

A few months back I was contacted by a BA reader named Jen, regarding the issue of organ donation. Jen and her partner Ken are currently embarked on a 7,000 mile trike tour across the United States, to raise awareness for this important cause. And she shared with me their story:

Our motivation for doing this comes through Jen’s 11 year old daughter Alexandria Kai Ballentine. In 1999 Alex and her mother (Jen) had a discussion concerning organ donation. Alex told Jen that if something happened to her she did not want her organs wasted if they could be given to someone that could use them. A very mature decision for one so young . . . a decision that became significant when just six months later Alex was hit by a car and killed while walking across the street. Jen honored her daughter’s wishes and donated Alex’s organs. This selfless act saved five lives and gave two others the gift of sight. It was the Ultimate Charity. This tour is in her memory.

I was so moved by this, and immediately knew I had to share Jen’s journey with all of you. I am awed by her openness and by her strength, and I am humbled by her choice to move from tragedy into positive action. You can learn more about Jen and Ken’s grand adventure, here.

So this month, I urge all of you to join me in registering as an organ donor. I did it online, and it only took five minutes – five minutes that could save five lives. For more information please visit DonateLife.net

In the words of Jen,

All of us have the power to save lives . . . Last year 28,000 lives were saved as a result of organ donation. You or someone you love may one day need a transplant . . . please don’t take your organs with you!

So please, accept this mission. BONZAI!

  • Erica

    That is amazing. I am so proud of that young woman and yet so deeply saddened. Jen and her partner are doing an amazing thing. It is never easy to lose a child, as I know firsthand, but to turn such tragedy into something so positive is awe inspiring. When I lost my daughter she was barely 15 minutes old, but my husband and I still decided to donate what ever we could. Teagan was a strong little girl as was Jen’s daughter Alex and due to organ donation their strength will live on. Thank you for posting this.

  • Laura

    Thank you for posting this Sayward! It means a lot to our family that you took time out of your life and blog to inform people about their mission!

  • Jan in New Zealand

    It’s wonderful that publicity about Jen and Ken’s mission is spreading. I’m an avid supporter of them, and it’s so exciting to see this sort of thing appearing – thank you!

  • Brian

    I’ve been following Ken & Jen’s adventure before it even started. I’m planning on riding with them when they get to Utah in a few months. They inspired me to become an organ donor. I even had a dog tag made that says “Recycle Me”. No burial or cremation for me. Take what you need and donate the rest to medical science. Why waste the money for a fancy casket or an urn? When I’m dead and gone, use my body parts to help others instead of chucking me in a hole!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Erica – I’m so sorry for your loss. As a new mother, I can’t even imagine. But thank you for your decision to donate, and thank you for sharing your story here with us.

    @ Laura (niece?), Jan, & Brian – So glad to see all you Jen and Ken fans here! That’s so awesome that people already know about them and what they’re doing. Looks like I’m late to the game, ha!

  • Laura

    Yeah Sayward, I am the niece! I don’t think you are so much late as Jen and I are blasting this monthly mission all over the Internets!

  • tinyflowers

    I’m a donor! Congratulations on your decision to register, Sayward, it really is so noble of you and of anyone.

  • Melisa

    I am going to register right now. And Brian, I love the ‘recycle me’ thing!
    Sayward, I pray motherhood is treating you well. It sure can be rocky there at the beginning.

  • http://kpapoulias.blogspot.com/ Kathryn

    I’m a donor as well. When I got my driver’s license they give you the option of putting a little pink sticker to signify that you’re a donor. It makes me proud to say that every single person I know with a license has that sticker. It’s encouraging to know that even though you may be gone, you can still change someone’s life.

  • Chrissy

    I had the opportunity to meet Ken and Jen when they rode through central Virginia. They are amazing people! Thanks for sharing their story and encouraging your readers to register to donate.

  • http://fromscratch-blog.blogspot.com Amy @ From Scratch

    I’ve always indicated that I wanted to be an organ donor on my driver’s license, but had no idea there was a separate registry as well! I’m definitely letting my husband know of my wishes and forwarded him the link to sign up with as well. Thanks for providing this important info!

  • http://gbkbrv.blogspot.com Karen

    I’m Jen’s mom. We’ve always been on the organ donor list but now we have organ donor plates on our truck and organ donor flags on our bikes. We have recently signed up with biogift.org to donate our entire bodies.

  • http://kenandjennc.blogspot.com Jen (and Ken)

    Thanks everyone for your support, and especially to those who are becoming Organ Donors!!! That’s what this is all about and it moves me to tears to read that people are registering. Sayward, great job here! Did all of you check out all the STUFF she knows?? I could spend days on this site. In fact, I have. :)
    Want daily updates on our ride? Go here!
    My blog: kenandjennc.blogspot.com
    Ken’s journal: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/6429

  • http://indiearsenal.com Farmingtheburbs

    That was easy. There is nothing “mini” about that. Thanks Sayward.

  • http://www.dkms.org Rebecca

    What a wonderful mission!

    I’d also like to bring up the area of bone marrow/stem cell donation. It’s something that can be done during life. More info is at http://www.dkms.org.

    Thanks, and I wish all the best to Jen, Ken and their campaign! :)

  • Brian

    I got the “Recycle me” idea from Jen! My dog tag also has “www.donatelife.net” on it.

  • miss ellie

    i signed up for this last year at the KY state fair…there was a both and all i had to do was sign a form and they put a sticker on my license… i mean when i’m dead, what am i going to do with my body? i’m not going to use it anyway, so it may as well go help someone else

  • Kelly

    What a tragically beautiful story! It’s so sad and touching… I don’t know whether to smile or cry.

    I have been registered as a donor for as long as I can remember. Our bodies are just vessels during our time here and if we can make someone else’s vessel more liveable when we’re done…Why not?? There are so many reasons to donate and none – that I know of – NOT to donate.

    Nice to see you on here momma-chica!

  • Lili

    Great idea! I’ve been registered as a donor for a while now and, like Miss Ellie, I also think once I’m dead my body won’t be any good to me, but if it can save someone else’s life then why not? Plus, being a donor is another good reason to take good care of your body while you’re alive. I, for one, don’t like to give away crappy second hand items. The least I can do is keep my organs in the best possible condition.

  • Katharine

    This is a fabulous cause! If I may, I would also like to provide a link to the bone marrow donor registry. Being a bone marrow donor is a little different in that you can do it while you are alive so it takes a different kind of commitment but, like being an organ donor, it doesn’t take much!
    FAQ section is here: http://www.marrow.org/JOIN/FAQs_about_Joining_the_Registry/index.html

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/vtgrrl Carolyn

    Excellent mission! I registered, even though I’m pretty sure I’m already a donor and my family and friends know.

    Katharine, awesome suggestion. I’m also a bone marrow donor.

    Which also makes me think that I need to start giving blood again regularly.

  • Nathan

    The most important determinant in organ donation is whether it’s an opt-out or opt-in.



    Of course those with any objection should be allowed to dispose of their most personal property, their bodies, however they see fit, but the default should not be to bury or burn these critical and irreplaceable resources.

    I hope we all opt IN, but we shouldn’t have to.

  • akeeyu

    I’d like to second Rebecca and Katharine’s call for bone marrow donation.

    Something you might not know:
    Marrow donation does NOT always involve removing the marrow with a big pointy objects anymore. Depending on the circumstances, it is now possible to donate marrow by having a few simple injections for several days and then undergoing a process similar to platelet donation, where your blood is filtered and then returned to you.

    Speaking of platelet donation, PLATELET DONATION!

    Does blood donation leave you feeling tired? Does regular donation nudge you towards anemia? Want to give more frequently? Consider platelet donation! It takes a little longer, but you get to spend the time snuggled up in a blanket watching a movie and being catered to by the lovely blood bank staff.

    Platelet donation doesn’t deplete your iron or take your red blood cells like whole blood donation, so it can be little easier on your body.

    Don’t like needles at all?

    That’s cool. How about scissors? Can you donate your HAIR? Depending on the organization, you can donate as little as 10 to 12 inches and brighten somebody’s life!

  • Tenise Rae

    Such a cool monthly mission Sayward! :D I was already a donor but I did post the site to my facebook. It was interesting to see some of the responses. Some people were already donors but most people seemed to make fun saying, “Oh I don’t think they want *my* liver.” or “My lungs are too charred to be a donor.” I mean, really? Come on people! First of all, I don’t think this is a subject to be taken lightly. So making fun of it irritates me. Second of all, there’s more to the human body than those *damaged* organs. Third, let me tell you a little story: I had a close friend. Her family and my family are basically attached at the hip. So she was basically like a sister to me. In the last 10 years she started going downhill, and fast. Tons of smoking, drinking and numerous other drugs. Prostitution somehow came into the mix. It was hard on both of our families to watch her do this to herself. Unfortunately, our worst fears came true when she got drunk at noon one day and decided to go get more booze. She didn’t put on her seatbelt and hit another car head on. The other driver was fine but she, of course, was not. She lived for a few days after that but her brain was just too damaged. The only positive thing that came out of this whole ordeal was that she donated all of her organs saving lives and enhancing others. The cool part….her lungs were smokers lungs, her liver was almost to the point of cirrhosis, and her eye balls were cut up from the accident, but they took them anyway! The hospital took them ALL and transplanted them into people that needed help. So it doesn’t matter if you think your lungs or liver are damaged. They just might take them anyway.
    Why don’t we just leave that decision up to them? Thanks!

    P.S. My friend’s family got a letter a year later telling them where all their daughter’s organs went. Her lungs went to a man who had lung cancer. Her heart went to a 14 year old girl with a bad heart. Her eyes went to a blind woman who can now SEE!!! Her liver went to a young man that was in a car accident and had his liver damaged. There’s a couple more stories too. Unfortunately I don’t remember where the pancreas and kidneys went. You get the picture though. :D

    Recycling is my middle name…..please sign up and recycle yourself. Hee hee.

  • http://www.greeninoakpark.com Amy

    I’m a donor too. I’m amazed that Jen and Ken can turn this into something positive; that’s wonderful beyond words. Kudos to them for continuing the mission and honoring Alex’s wishes.

    I’d also like to second becoming a bone marrow donor. I’m on the registry and I signed up a few years ago when my uncle died of leukemia. The more people who sign up, the more likely it is that any given person who has leukemia can find a match.

  • http://www.greeninoakpark.com Amy

    Or maybe at this point, I want to third it.:)

  • http://kenandjennc.blogspot.com Jen (and Ken)

    Hey everyone, thank you so much for all the great giving ideas… I have become really interested in living donation lately as well. It’s incredible what we each have in us to give, isn’t it? And we don’t have to have money to do it!

    Hooray to Sayward, and to all the people here who have registered!! And for all of you who help get this very important message out.

    Jen and Ken (and Simon)

  • http://shelbyopolis.blogspot.com/ Shelby

    I made sure to tell my family about my decision to be a donor because a donor rep. told me that it’s ultimately up to your family even if you’ve signed up to donate. Being vegan increases our donateable parts, don’t you think? I think processing fast food meats takes a big toll on the organs. I don’t have any facts about it, so maybe it’s just a nice, wishful thought.

  • Jenny

    What better memorial is there for a loved one than to have them help others even after death? I’ve been a donor since I learned to drive.

  • http://thegreengeek05.wordpress.com Courtney

    That is wonderful! Thankfully in Ohio it’s as simple as adding it when you get your license. So I’ve been once since I got my permit at 15 and 1/2.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    Thank you all so much! This is such an important gesture and I’m so thrilled that so many of you are willing to commit to it. You guys rock!

    For those who filled out the form at the DMV and have the sticker on their license, I urge you to still go through the online registry and ensure that your name is in the database. I had done the DMV/sticker route but my information was not online. Plus, stickers come off! Better safe than sorry.

    And thanks to those who suggested bone marrow and platelet donation. And hair donation! (which I’ve done) And don’t forget blood donation, which is always necessary. I’m going to look into the first two some more, as I’m not too familiar with them.

    @ Tenise Rae- What a sad story, I’m so sorry your family had to go through that. But thank you for sharing your story with us. And, like Jen’s, there is a bittersweet ending to the tragedy. At least now you can help educate people with your powerful personal experience.

    Thanks so much everyone! BONZAI!

  • Tenise Rae

    Thanks! I wasn’t really intending on writing that much. I just wanted to make a small little point but it turned into a freaking novel. I guess I was just venting. Heheh. Thanks for readin’. :D

  • kelly alice.

    thank you for posting this! i was a registered donor already, but i didn’t realize it was this easy. i posted it on my FB with great responses.

  • http://uncooking101.com Eva Rawposa

    Just found your site late in the game through Jen ~ and I must say ~ I love it.

    I’m a proud organ donor and can’t see one reason why anyone would not make the same choice. Kudos to people who spread good ideas like this! <3

    :-) xxo Eva