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le don d'organes (The Story of Nai)

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Smokey says: When in doubt about which photo to use -- always choose moi! Photo taken one year ago. P.S. the dogs returned home safely from their getaway the other day!

Thank you very much for your caring notes to Jean-Marc! "Chief Grape" is still waiting for his kidney biopsy results, though he feels confident that whatever might be ailing him is nothing serious. 

Note: today's word does not concern Jean-Marc (so no worries)! That said, we are all concerned when it comes to the subject of saving lives! Read on, in the following story. 

le don d'organes

    : organ donation

Note: The sound file and example sentence are found at the end of today's edition.

 

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Paris apartment for rent. St Sulpice. 

215 euros per night (min.  3 night rental)
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— The Story of Nai —
by Maureen Templeton-Adams

Like many Americans I became a “Provence-phile” after reading Peter Mayle’s book “A Year in Provence”. Now, fourteen years later, my husband Lee and I continue to visit Provence every year. These visits are all about the wonderful people of Provence, their serene life-style and their superb wines.

In October 2008 we found our way from the gite we were renting to the Rouge-Bleu farmhouse, less than five minutes away. We had made new friends in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorque who told us that their neighbor in Houston Texas imported French Country Wines. They assured us the wines were wonderful and the owners Jean-Marc and Kristin Espinasse were delightful people. Our friends were correct on both points!

The scene as we approached the farmhouse was truly hectic as the harvest was still in progress. Jean-Marc was providing direction to several of his workers while others were scurrying at a frenetic pace to get the grapes harvested and ready for the “crush”.

Jean-Marc mistook us for part of an English speaking wine tour that was not due for a couple of hours. He explained that Kristin was not available and very politely asked us to return later at the “scheduled” time. Rather than correct his misperception and further distract him from the harvest, we left.

When we returned, we were lucky to have a few moments alone with Kristin before a group of eight of their friends from Marseille arrived to taste (and hopefully purchase) his wines. They brought their male golden retriever to get to “better know” Kristin’s female golden retriever, Braise. Pandemonium ensued!!

Braise
        (Braise, hiding in the lavender and rosemary patch. Sam, in pursuit.)

Braise was NOT ready for such a commitment and resisted all attempts of her would be suitor. Her retreat took her around the yard, through the house and back again numerous times with Kristin’s children, Max and Jackie, in close pursuit. With each trip around the circuit the barking and yelling became louder!

Jm Unfazed, Jean-Marc continued to expound on the many virtues of his wines. The increasing noise level prompted a response from Jules, Kristin’s mom, who was visiting. From her bedroom window on the second floor, above the courtyard where we were seated, she inquired loudly. “What is going on out there?” “I am trying to take a nap!”

For Lee and I it was difficult not to break out laughing at this crazy comedy playing out in front of us. It was a truly memorable and insightful introduction into the lives of Kristin and her family. As we prepared to take our newly purchased wine and leave, I told Jean-Marc how much I liked his wine-stained T-shirt. Without hesitation he stripped it off and tossed it to me with a stern warning of “don’t wash it”! Kristen yelled across the yard, “wash it! wash it!” The evening had provided another wonderful Provencal memory to savor and share with our friends.

Klm
                  From left to right: Kristin, Lee, and Maureen

In the few quiet minutes before the arrival of their friends from Marseille, we enjoyed talking with Kristin. She asked many questions prompting me to share my story with her.

I lived as a Type-1, insulin dependent diabetic (juvenile diabetes) for 44 years since I was diagnosed at age 11. I suffered many of the complications, feet problems, vision loss, nerve damage, and kidney failure. In 2006 our annual visit to Provence had to be hastily arranged for July. I was going to be added to the kidney transplant list. This meant I could be no more than six hours from my hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. With the prospects of dialysis (or worse) looming and the fear that I may never see my beloved Provence again, it was a bittersweet visit. There are over 100,000 people on the waiting list for an organ transplant in the USA; another is added to the list every 11 minutes; 18 die every day waiting for an organ.

On April 27, 2007, the medical nightmare ended. I received the “Gift of Life”, a kidney AND a pancreas from an organ donor killed in an auto accident. The next day I was insulin free, no longer a diabetic. Although I still must deal with the diabetic complications from years past, I am healthy, happy, and able to visit “our” Provence.

After the transplant surgery I recovered sufficiently to make our September 2007 visit to Provence. This visit was an entirely different and a vastly better vacation!! I was no longer tied to a very tight regime of constantly checking my blood sugar, eating and taking insulin to manage my diabetes. I was “FREE”, no longer diabetic! This was the first year we rented our now-favorite gite close to Kristin and Jean-Marc.

Some wonderful, loving and caring people make my story possible. It crosses geographic boundaries as well as the perceived boundaries of religion and culture. This demonstrates again that people the world over share the same values.

Nai


The first of these wonderful and caring people was Naiyareh Karimimanesh, a beautiful 28-year-old Iranian-American woman, who died in the auto accident. At the age of 16, “Nai” as she liked to be called, had the maturity and compassion to become an organ donor and have it displayed on her driver’s license. This simple act saved my life and the life of another woman that was within hours of death due to kidney and liver failure.

Nai was beautiful on the inside as well. She strongly believed that diversity makes us richer and stronger as a society. She had recently passed the bar exam and was working for one of the more prestigious law firms in Atlanta. Her intent was to dedicate herself to defending the rights of women in less developed areas of the world where they suffer from cultural and religious abuse.

With the love and guidance of her parents, Carelle and Mahmood, Nai became an incredible woman. At the time of Nai’s tragic accident they were half a world away in Iran visiting Mahmood's family. For us it is still unbelievable that when confronted with the worst possible news, the loss of their only child, they were able to give permission for Nai’s organs to be donated, saving the lives of two women they had never seen.

In April of 2008, near the first anniversary of my life-saving transplant surgery, we received the first letter from Carelle and Mahmood and responded immediately. I had not written after my surgery because I could not find adequate words to express the dichotomy of my emotions. I was grieving for the parents of this young woman and their unimaginable loss but at the same time happy with my incredible good fortune to have received her organs and a second chance for life.

We began a correspondence via the organization that coordinates organ transplantation in Georgia. The process is slow but designed to shield the identities of both the donor’s family and the recipient until both are emotionally ready to meet. From their wonderful letters we knew we were ready to immediately meet Carelle and Mahmood. However it would be just after we returned from Provence in October 2008 that we were provided names and contact information. I could not sleep for days before our first phone call. I still did not have the words to express my emotions. All worries vanished within minutes of first speaking to each other. It was clear that our lives would be forever linked.


Nai 2 In January 2009 they came from California and stayed with us for a couple of weeks. They introduced us to their friends in Atlanta, many of Iranian descent and of the Baha’i faith as well as some of Nai’s friends from law school. These remarkable people are coping with the loss of their only child by focusing on the positives that came from her death. In April, Lee and I flew to California to be with Carelle and Mahmood to mark the second anniversary of my transplant and the loss of Nai. As a tribute to Nai, Mahmood arranged for a three-hour interview on Persian satellite TV to tell story and to promote organ donation. The program aired in North and South America and via Internet feeds to the whole world.

Days after we returned from our October 2009 visit to Provence, Carelle and Mahmood visited Atlanta again to support my fund raising efforts for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). The 2009 Atlanta Walk for a Cure raised over 1.9 million dollars for diabetic research. Maureen’s Dream Team was renamed to Maureen AND Naiyareh’s Dream Team raising almost $10,000.

In Nai’s memory Carelle and Mahmood continue to support charitable efforts around the world to educate and build better lives for women. (To learn more about Naiyareh go to her website www.naimemorial.com)

I am so grateful for the “Gift of Life” that has given me more time with the people I love. I am continuing fund raising for JDRF to help find a cure for juvenile diabetes. (To support this effort visit www.jdrf.org ) Lee and I also are volunteering with Life Link to promote organ donation. (To become an organ donor visit www.lifelinkfound.org or www.donatelife.org ; In the UK visit www.uktransplant.org.uk )We are grateful to Kristin for allowing us to share my story with her and her followers on French-Word-A-Day.

UPDATE on MAUREEN
During the past year since Kristin posted my story; life for me continues to be wonderful. We even managed a “surprise visit” with Jean-Marc during his wine tour of the USA. We also remain in frequent contact with Carelle and Mahmood. We support their efforts to build schools for girls in third world countries in Nai’s memory, they support our efforts to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), and we work together to promote organ donation.

In the past year I have met many other people whose lives have been changed by the loss of a loved one and the donation of their organs. Also others like me who have experienced the “Gift of Life”. While at a wine festival in Provence, we met a man from the Netherlands who had to give permission to have his brother’s organs donated. In Atlanta, a man gave permission for his son’s organs to be donated after he was murdered in Pittsburg. In North Carolina we met a couple that donated their son’s organs after he was hit by a car. In addition we attended a seminar for organ recipients which was amazing! We meet 30 couples who like us were adjusting to life after a spouse received an organ transplant. Their stories of experiencing a “New Life” after years of sickness and limitations were truly heart warming.

In 2010 the Atlanta Gala for JDRF raised over a million dollars, not bad considering the economy. My donor’s parents, Carelle and Mahmood, were our biggest supporters again. The Gala raises money with both a silent and live auction. This year we are SO EXCITED! The WONDERFUL French couple that we rent our gite from has donated a week at their larger house, minutes from Kristin!! This will be the most sought after item of the live auction and will undoubtedly bring in thousands of dollars!! We had wanted to pay for the week and donate it, but our generous friends refused, saying it was their gift!! It is easy to see why we have become such good friends and love them so much! Another example of the warm giving nature of the French people! It is any wonder we return to France every chance we have?

Thanks again to Kristin for allowing me to share my experiences with being an organ recipient. My new lease on life will enable me to continue working to support organ donation so other lives will be saved and enjoyed. Also, I will continue my support for JDRF and their efforts to fund research to find a cure for Type-1 diabetes. To help me in these efforts could the non-USA readers provide me with the names of the organizations in your countries that manage organ donation and diabetes research? Many thanks!

Much love,

Maureen Templeton-Adams & Lee Adams

Group

Nai's mom, Carelle, and Maureen (left and second to left, respectively) at the JDRF Atlanta Walk for a Cure along with Maureen & Naiyareh's Dream Team

 

Postnote: Jean-Marc, on hearing Maureen's story, said that it was a shame that French driver's licenses didn't offer the organ donor's info (as the US driver's licenses do). Update: it turns out that the mention may be unnecessary... Read about this law, in which organs are automatically donated:

From Wikipedia:

Le don d'organes repose, depuis la loi Caillavet de 1976, sur le principe du consentement présumé : chacun d’entre nous est considéré comme un donneur potentiel après sa mort à moins de s’y être opposé de son vivant en s'étant inscrit dans le Registre National des Refus

(In France...) Organ donation rests, since the 1976 Caillavet law, on the principle of presumed consent: each among us is considered as a potential donor after his/her death, unless one has opposed, in his/her lifetime, by signing up on the Registre National des Refus.

 

Le Coin Commentaires

Thank you for sharing your thoughts here in the comments box. I know that Nai's family and Maureen and Lee will be delighted to read your notes. 

Audio File & Example Sentence

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Le don d'organes repose, depuis la loi Caillavet de 1976, sur le principe du consentement présumé : chacun d’entre nous est considéré comme un donneur potentiel après sa mort à moins de s’y être opposé de son vivant en s'étant inscrit dans le Registre National des Refus

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