When I was in the hospital waiting for my new heart.  This video of Trevor Sullivan, 15 years old, was circling the internet. Trevor was the recipient of a heart transplant in November 2015 and the video shows him shortly after surgery and just how he felt.  Take a minute and give it a look here!

While most of the comments were supportive and loving. Ignorance and negativity crept in. These quotes were taken directly from the comments section of the posting of the video on Facebook.

“I hope that heart is not one from those who’d been kidnapped and took the organ n sell to save other life….”

This first quote almost made me laugh. Seriously?! Just to clear things up for anyone who thinks that hospitals will use stolen organs, they don’t. As a matter of fact, before being placed on the transplant list, a patient is required to sign a statement saying if they show up to the hospital with an organ the hospital will not install nor take care of the organ. Moving on.

“Let’s wait and see if this kid and his family bother to contact the donor’s family with that much appreciation. The recipient’s gratitude always dissapears once the deal is done and the body is sewn up..

that being said, I hope this kid never forgets that someone had to die so he may live.”

A 15 year old boy just went through a heart transplant and people still have the audacity to spew judgmental, presumptuous and hateful words! I do not know the situation of the person who posted that comment. It may very well be by a donor family who has been “burned”  by an organ recipient. (I really hope that isn’t the case). That being said, I think we all need to go back to something my mother said to me when I was a young girl, “Think before you speak.” Believe it or not, this was a very hard concept for me.

I taught adults with disabilities for two years in a program that taught these students how to work and then helped them find jobs in their local community. During that time, we also had a lesson on giving back to your community. As a class, we decided to support Spread the Word to End the Word. This campaign encourages people to sign a pledge to end the use of the word ‘retarded’. We set up a table at the food court with a large banner for students to sign. My students approached patrons of the food court explaining what Spread the Word to End the Word meant to them and asking they sign the pledge.

More recently I’ve heard of a fight to end the use of mental health conditions (bipolar, OCD, etc) in casual conversation and as derogatory labels.  I’m sure that people suffering from these conditions don’t appreciate them being used so lightly as to say, “I’m so OCD I can’t have anything on my kitchen counters.”

Friends of mine shutter when someone says, “That gave me a heart attack.” As women who have suffered heart attacks they know, it didn’t come close. I even had a close friend say, “You’re going to put me in heart failure.” Seriously? I was in heart failure for eight years and received a transplant less than four months ago. I didn’t say a word to her.

Sadly the use of racial/gender slurs and jokes are far from gone. Some use them with the intent of being disrespectful, mean and hateful. Other use them simply to be funny or to impress others. Racism isn’t funny. You aren’t impressing anyone.

Here’s the thing. If we quit using every word/phrase that offended someone, we’d have nothing left to say. That being said, we’ve all heard, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”. I beg to differ. Words do hurt. I don’t use the r-word and I encourage others not too. When I heard that the casual use of mental health diagnoses bothered a friend I worked to eliminate them from my vocabulary. Are words that hurt people so important to you that you can’t let them go? Are you so filled with hate and paranoia that you have to accuse a 15 year old who just underwent major surgery of not being grateful? Unless you’ve been through your own heart transplant, and actually spoken with Trevor or his donor family to determine his level of gratitude, I think it wise to keep your negativity to yourself. He’s gone through far more as a 15 year old than most have as an adult. He will receive my faith and support until he proves he isn’t worthy. Why is it that we are so skeptical? Why is it that we can’t love and support each other and give our faith and the benefit of the doubt first? I encourage you to think before you speak. Evaluate your vocabulary. Are there any words or phrases that mean more to you than a human being? If you happen to find that to be true, I’d like to call your attention some other advice from my mother, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, please don’t say anything at all.”

Courage, dear heart. ~C.S.Lewis


One thought on “Think before you speak, type, etc.

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