A Seattle woman’s life is restored thanks to an organ donor’s gift of life and the support of her community.
National Donor Sabbath is an annual campaign created by Donate Life America that aims to engage all major religions in learning, promoting and educating about organ, eye, and tissue donation. Donor families, transplant recipients, medical professionals, and faith leaders from many religions use his time of recognition to help educate about the critical shortage of donors, celebrate lives impacted by the gift of life, and pray for those affected by donation and transplantation.
Dori Rosenberg was living with a steady balance of a busy work life and an active social life until her health began to spiral downwards in the summer of 2016. She was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic, life-threatening disease that damages the lungs and impacts breathing. Her health had always been relatively stable, allowing her to live a normal life until one day in June when she suddenly couldn’t catch her breath and ended up in the hospital.
Dori always considered herself a fighter, but after this incident, Dori found herself living a much-restricted life as she spent each day tethered to an oxygen machine.
Though her physical health was declining, her mental health remained strong thanks to her family and friends in her Jewish community. Members from the Temple Beth Am, the reform synagogue she goes to, joined her with daily visits, which gave Dori joy and a feeling of connectedness.
By August, Dori was listed for a transplant. She was told that the average wait period for new lungs at the University of Washington Medical Center was about nine months.
Fortunately, she didn’t have to wait that long. On December 18, 2016, Dori received the call she had been waiting for – she was going to receive her new lungs the very next day. Two days after her transplant, she was “re-born with new lungs” and for the first time in a long while, breathing felt easy.
While Dori considered her gift of new lungs a “holiday miracle,” she also understood that this was going to be to the worst holiday season for her donor family.
Dori’s Rabbi had her own family connection to donation and reached out to Dori to speak at their synagogue’s healing service during Yom Kippur, a service focused on reflection and coping with loss and illness.
Dori says that, through her transplant journey, she felt that her faith community helped “connect [her] to a bigger community of people that care and that are doing things to support people who are sick.”
Her connections with her synagogue provided frequent visitors, home cooked meals for her and her family, and simply people to talk to.
Dori believes “it’s important to have people from within different faith communities share their stories.” Organ donation can be a difficult topic, but she hopes it helps to hear stories like hers that relay the benefits of organ donation and transplantation.
When addressing her community members, she wanted to stress the importance of having “conversations about [organ donation] with your family” and “become an organ donor because it really saves people in your community.”
Dori has since met her donor family and cherishes learning more about the 30-year old woman that saved her life and the legacy that she left behind. Thanks to her donor, Dori is able to travel the world and celebrate another birthday this November.
Join us in observing National Donor Sabbath from November 9 – 11.
During this year’s Donor Sabbath, we encourage you to register to become an organ, eye, and tissue donor online at www.lcnw.org or when you renew your driver’s license. Also, it’s important to talk to your family and friends about your wish to donate and educate them on why they should too!