I was supposed to get a liver transplant but I got new eyes too.

Okay, now this is weird. It’s good weird. I mean, I like it but it was just very unexpected. I had half of my son’s liver stitched into me on May 7 and, for some reason, I immediately started seeing a change in my eyesight.

No, they didn’t pop new eyeballs into my skull (Almost 50,000 people received new corneas in 2011 because of organ donors!). I’ve got the same greenish-blue eyes and still need glasses but something is very, very different with my eyesight.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Monday evening Robin and I spent some time with a new little family taking portraits. (I’m a photographer) We loved it and had a lot of fun. But once again I noticed something different about the way I see things.

I’ve been looking through the lens since I was a kid. I’ve always loved making pictures and capturing memories. But now, I see things so much more clearly.

I looked at Nick, Caitlin and Avery and saw life. I saw sweet, painful, joyous, hilarious thing life. I pictured their future. I wanted to pull Nick aside and tell him to always put his girls first and see them as the most valuable parts of his world. I wanted to let Caitlin know that being a mom can be rough but there is no more important job. I wanted to tell her to smile at the messes and play in the mud. And I wanted to pick little Avery up and tell her that every bump and fall ahead is an opportunity to grow into a confident, compassionate, beautiful young woman. I wanted to do anything I could to make sure the sparkle in her eyes never fades and her contagious smile never goes away.

It was more than old man melancholy longing for days gone by. I admit, the best way to start me crying is to get me to focus on the days when our children were babies and toddlers, but Monday night was not about that. It was about the gift of life.

These eyes of mine now see the beauty of life all around me. After walking my dog early each morning I sit on the lawn in a white Adirondack chair and watch our neighborhood come to life. I see cats walking to their houses after their overnight hunting excusions. One always stops in the middle of the road, sits and spends about 5 minutes cleaning its paws. He always gives my dog and I a look. The trees are a richer green than I have ever noticed. The pinks and purples of the morning sky are a canvas that I’ve never really studied before.

My neighbor across the street returns from her morning high school swim practice and Karen walks her dog Lucas and stops to say hello while birds sing in the new day. I just sit and watch with a thankful smile on my face. My new eyes make me slow down and appreciate things.

I’ve talked to other liver transplant survivors and they report that they too have new eyes. It really is bizarre. I used to joke with my kids that I was like Chevy Chase in one of his “Vacation” films looking out over the Grand Canyon. “There it is kids, the Grand Canyon. Isn’t it beautiful? … Okay, let’s go!” I’m not that guy anymore.

I wish you could get eyes like mine without going through a struggle for your life. I wish I could give them to you.

How about this? I’d like you to pretend you are me for the next 24 hours. You should have died. You shouldn’t be here to mow your lawn, wash those dishes or play with your kids. You shouldn’t be here to be stuck in that traffic, get a haircut or sing along with the radio. You shouldn’t be here to worry about the things you worry about. You are only alive because of an incredible, sacrificial gift. Just pretend.

For me, that is reality. It explains my new eyes. It explains my new attitude. I shouldn’t be here but, because of an organ donor, I am alive. I’m alive and life is beautiful.

“All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared?

Give me Your
eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity”
-Brandon Heath

Complete song and lyrics:

To register to be an organ donor right now, just click here.

About Scott Linscott

Living life to the fullest, walking in the dust of my Rabbi, creating art through photography and written word, speaking words of hope and encouragement at conferences, workshops, church and civic gatherings.
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3 Responses to I was supposed to get a liver transplant but I got new eyes too.

  1. Kathleen says:

    It does not take a transplant to get new eyes and ears. The death of my husband, my parents, aunts, uncles and a beloved cousin, an entire generation gone in a 10 year span got me interested in my family history..

    I got my new eyes in 1988 when my husband Keith passed away and then again in 1999 when my Aunt Gerry, Uncle Donald and Aunt Eleanor were all heaven bound within months of each other, and again in 2000 when my mother-in-law Sarah and Uncle Russell crossed over. In 2001 my mother Elizabeth and my Uncle Donald passed within 4 months of each other .. vision improving … 2003 my Dad Arthur left us and in 04 my Uncle Kippy finally went home to be with the Lord. In 05-06- and 07 my three remaining Aunts all went home to glory .. Aunt Martha, Aunt Ruthie and Aunt Madeline… all huge inspirations in my life now rejoined the family in heaven.. We had a year off and then the last of my mother’s family passed in 2009 with the passing of Uncle Dooney. 2009 also saw the passing of my Aunt Phyllis (on daddy’s side of the family) and shockingly my cousin Donna left us … (she was only 61 years old) With the passing of each family member my vision changed. Almost ready to ditch the glasses and hearing aid..

    I found joy in simple things and over the course of these events I grew to love the people more and the things less. It made me realize that the things can be lost in an instant but so can the people who make my life so fullfilling.

    There came a moment when I realized that with the passing of each family member I was losing my connections to my past. Now, when I have quesitons about my family’s history I realize that I am virtually an orphan… it feels like riding in a car with no seatbelt… It’s unsettling… I find myself researching my family geneaology and there is no place to go for answers to my questions.. My parents are gone, my aunts and uncles are gone, my best sources of information are gone.. It’s like losing a family heirloom.. they can’t be replaced..

    My lesson learned is pass along the family history, tell the stories, share what’s best about living.. make sure your kids and grandkids know where they came from.. give them the details of your living history.. write it down..

    There are blank spaces in my family tree that I will never be able to fill in.. (like the mystery of my Paternal Grandmother) this I know but I’m keeping my eyes and ears open.. just in case..

  2. Scott – I understand full well what you say about noticing the little things – things that have been there all the time. I knew they were there but now I see them. I see the velvet petals on a rose, I see a butterfly and I also hear things more clearly – I hear children’s laughter and squeals of joy, I hear the river running by, – For me it has been a time of awakening to the beauty and joy that now fills my heart, but I just didn’t see before.

    A piece of music moves me to tears because I am really listening and hearing it ~ I hope this new awareness lasts with you and it brings you untold joy.

    We are changed after transplant – and I am thankful for so many of those changes.
    The things that phased me and ruffled my feathers – no longer does – I just go with the flow. I am alive and well and I love my life.

    Hugs to you.

    Linda J. Vaughan

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