About 7 years ago a mutual friend introduced me to a man named Joel James. Those of you who know Joel are probably smiling right now with good (and funny) memories coming to mind. Joel is universally described by everyone he knows as “a good dude”. He does what he says he will do, he doesn’t gossip about other people, and he’s always around when you need help. He’s the type of guy who always makes you feel like you are the reason he’s in a good mood.
The reason I hooked up with Joel was because I was looking for someone to collaborate with musically. I play drums and Joel is an incredible songwriter, guitarist and singer. He can tell a story with a song that keeps you listening and tapping your feet. When he’s onstage – let’s just say Joel “goes with the flow”. Many well prepared set lists have fallen at his heels as he polls the crowd to see what he thinks is the next best song. We played music together for about six years until he started having kids and I started having more kids. Over the last seven years I’ve come to know him pretty well and consider him a very close friend.
On March 8th of this year, Joel (an HR Director) was in a meeting with 2 other men when he collapsed and became unresponsive. The two men happened to know CPR and began administering chest compressions and called 911. Soon the EMT’s were on the scene, but it took the use of defibrillator paddles to bring Joel back to consciousness. Two weeks later, he was back home waiting to get an internal defibrillator installed and was considering a heart transplant.
When he called me to tell me what happened, I was stunned. I knew Joel had a heart problem when he was younger, but I never realized it was ongoing and as severe as it was. Joel has Tetralogy of Fallot Disease and it is found in 5 of every 10,000 newborns. This is actually 4 different heart diseases in one. You may have heard the term “blue baby” before. Well – Joel was blue until his first surgery at the age of two. Since then, he has had three additional surgeries at ages 4, 12 and 23. At ages 12 and 23 Joel had heart valve replacements. The first (age 12) was a cadaver valve and the second (age 23) was a heart valve from a pig.
Today, my 37 year old buddy and his family of four are the subject of many of our prayers. Joel picked up his family and moved to Houston, TX where he is waiting for a new heart. He can go no more than 2 hours from Houston just in case he gets the call that one is available.
Once Joel got settled in, his doctors noticed he was going a little stir crazy, they recommended he find a hobby. In true Joel fashion, he decided to collaborate with studio musicians and start recording songs that he wrote over the course of his life. His original intention was to have something that his boys would be able to enjoy listening to one day. It ended up evolving into Joel fighting for a cause that will eventually save his life. He decided to title the album “The Rhythm Of A Broken Heart” and donate all proceeds to Donate Life America (DLA). DLA raises money for organ recipients and also strives to raise organ donation awareness. If you’re interested, Joel’s album is available on Amazon (click here), iTunes (click here) , and CD Baby.
There are so many things that are out of his control that need to fall into place for his life on earth to be saved. As a believer in God, I know that ultimately He controls what happens in our lives and I can only pray for discernment in those times when I actually NEED to step in. Now is one of those times. I am an organ donor. I always have been, but it was just a “well I”m dead so what does it matter” decision. Now that my friend’s life depends on organ donation, my decision has purpose. Your choice to donate your organs can have purpose too. Did you know that one person with healthy organs can replace organs in up to 50 people? This seems like such a no brainer, yet people are not informed when it’s time to make this decision. It’s simply a checkbox on a driver’s license.
My hope is that people will read this story and think about their choice to donate organs. Your organs could save a life or greatly improve a life. As far as Joel is concerned, I pray that someone has already made that decision.
This link will help you understand the importance of organ donation: http://donatelife.net/understanding-donation/.