Celebrating Life and February 14

I started to research the history and origin of Valentine’s Day for this blog, but that got really boring really quick. I chocolate heartslasted about twenty-four seconds. So I moseyed onto recent trends related to Valentine’s Day which proved to be a lot more interesting. Did you know…

  • Hallmark began offering Valentine’s Day cards in 1913. Okay, yes, this qualifies as history but it’s a quirky, interesting tidbit of history so I’m going to include it.
  • Somewhere between 142 and 151 million (figures vary) Valentine’s cards are exchanged each year, not including the packaged kids’ valentines for classroom exchange. Valentine’s Day falls behind Christmas and in front of Mother’s Day in the number of cards exchanged for a holiday.
  • According to the National Retail Federation, the average person celebrating Valentine’s Day spent $130 in 2013. Ho-ly cow!

I guess we’re not “average”. Not even close. Oh, we like Valentine’s Day. We’re definitely not part of the it’s-a-totally-manufactured-holiday-that-I-refuse-to-participate-in camp. In fact Valentine candy shows up in our candy dishes right about February 1. We have a thing about holiday candy—any holiday candy. The special shapes, colors, flavor combos are a big hit at our house. And we LOVE homemade sugar cookies with buttercream frosting—heart shaped, of course—complete with red, pink, and purple sprinkles. Yum…

But I got really excited when my research led to the discovery that Valentine’s Day shares February 14 with another very important event: National Organ Donor Day. This nationwide awareness campaign focuses on five points of life: organs, tissues, marrow, platelets, and blood. Many non-profit health organizations choose this day to sponsor blood and marrow drives and encourage people to sign-up as organ and tissue donors. National Donor Day began in 1998 with the Saturn Corporation and its United Auto Workers partners in conjunction with the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other non-profit health organizations.

organ donor dayWe’ve long supported organ donation, but our interest in this life-saving procedure took a personal turn when one of my daughter’s friends was listed for a transplant. At first Ashley Pearce, 26, of Eureka, California, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of 5, needed a double-lung transplant. Then it was determined she needed a new heart as well. And finally, the announcement came that she would also need a kidney.

What began as basically a “routine” hospital admission for Ashley who had lost count of how many times she’s been admitted over the years, turned into more than sixty days at Stanford University Medical Center, some six hours from home. Her husband, Marcus, and her mother, Lisa, kept vigil at her bedside, filling the roles of advocate, supporter and encourager. As prayers poured in from family and friends across the country, fundraising efforts, already underway for some time in anticipation of the need for transplant, were stepped up.

Ashley’s condition worsened rapidly, and it appeared time was running out. But thanks to the generous nature of an unknown young woman, Ashley received her triple organ transplant at Stanford on January 28. Even as her family celebrated Ashley’s chance for a new life, they prayed for a family mourning the loss of their precious daughter.

Ashley’s fierce determination and amazing strength had pushed her to overcome so many obstacles just to make it to the point of transplant. Due to the criticalness of her condition at the time of surgery and the extensive nature of a triple-organ transplant, Ashley’s recovery will be a lengthy process. The road to recovery has already been paved with numerous bumps, but every positive step is celebrated by a legion of family and friends.

I’ve dubbed Ashley’s husband Marcus “the warrior by her side”. His commitment, devotion and sacrifice toward his bigger heartsyoung wife—they married in the summer of 2013—is nothing short of breathtaking. With a positive attitude that never seems to wane, he journeys beside her. Theirs is a true love story. One that should be celebrated on Valentine’s Days and every other day of the year.

For more about Ashley’s journey to transplant visit http://www.cotaforashleyp.com/. You may follow her recovery at https://www.facebook.com/AshleyPearceKingPowellsTransplantJourney.

I hope you have a great February 14. After you indulge in that mega box of chocolates from your honey, gaze with appreciation at the bouquet of flowers from your sweetheart or savor the romantic dinner-for-two at your favorite restaurant, take a moment to visit http://www.organdonor.gov/index.html to learn more about giving the gift of life.

What’s the best Valentine’s Day gift you ever received? The best you ever gave?

7 thoughts on “Celebrating Life and February 14

  1. We aren’t too huge into celebrating. I’m not into uber-romantic stuff but a nice, cozy dinner and then a movie is always fun. Or walking together downtown. I gave my Hubby a chocolate tool set once. And I’ve still got the humongous card he got me for our first Valentine’s day.

    Our daughter’s 17yr-old babysitter has been on a similar journey to your daughter’s friend. She was diagnosed with Very Severe Aplastic Anemia November 2012. After countless transfusions of platelets and blood, and many set-backs, she had a bone marrow transplant Oct 31st. And she is back in the hospital this week with the Epstein Barr Virus, a parasite, and 2 ruptured blood vessels in her stomach. So many people have contributed to her transfusions not to mention the generous woman who was on stand-by for 6 months for the transplant. It’s given me renewed perspective & appreciation for donors.


  2. Beth, I love this post and that Valentine’s day coincides with National Organ Donor Day! It’s so appropriate as without the love we share with our common man, others would not be receiving the gift of life. My brother being one of them. (liver transplant about 20 years ago now) What better way to show our caring nature? I’m hoping everyone who reads this just tells another about wanting to be an organ donor. That’s all you have to do!
    My heart goes out to Ashley and Sparksofember’s friend. The human spirit is something to celebrate on Feb. 14th!


  3. Pingback: The LOVE Holiday | The Scriblerians

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