I made an 11 year old little girl cry and I’ll do it again. I’ve made many people cry over the years. As a reporter/videographer working in the local TV news business, I interviewed countless people on their worst day. People who lost loved ones. People who lost all of their worldly possessions in hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and floods. People who lost hope. In TV news it’s all about meeting a deadline and because of that, at times I lost perspective. I was so focused in getting the story that I lost the humanity in what these people were going through. I found myself glancing at my watch because I didn’t want to get called into the bosses’ office. I had a job to do. Nothing more, nothing less.
My name is Carlos and I’ve been working at DonorConnect for 2 years now and I’ll never forget my first week working as the Social Media Specialist. I was getting my feet wet and getting a good look at how the organ donation process worked. Some of the things I do are the usual posting on social media of what’s going on here as well as using my experience in story telling from my days working in the TV business to give the community a firsthand look at the lives that are changed when we check the box at the DLD or go online and register to become organ donors. The hard working people who work here, some as long as 25 years, have seen lives changed and it’s no surprise that those stories have affected them. I was talking with my supervisor about how I might be able to best help promote IDS. While we were talking he mentioned a story from 2003 of a mother who lost her life 9 months after giving birth to her baby. The complications with the birth necessitated her receive an organ transplant. Sadly she died waiting. My supervisor has kept in touch with the family and as he’s telling me the story, tears start to roll down his cheek. Everybody who works here has these stories to tell.
My story started on day two. Eleven year old, Danae, sat across from me with her mom Alejandra behind me offering her daughter support. Danae has a heart defect. She has had it since birth. She can’t run and play like other kids her age. She has gone to see doctors all her life. She has a pace maker and her heart is working double just to keep her heart pounding. As she gets older, her heart will no longer be able to keep up. She needs a new heart…and she needs one now.
Kids are shy, especially when there’s a camera and people around. I knew that if I wanted to get her to say what I wanted her to say (my news background started to kick in) I needed to get her mom to go into the other room. So I asked her if it was okay if I interviewed Danae alone. She agreed. I was trying to get her to open up and get comfortable. She began laughing and talking in longer sentences. I thought, now’s the time to ask the tough question.
“What makes you sad?” I asked. There was a long pause. It felt like 30 seconds to me but I didn’t cut the energy by asking her another question. I just sat and waited. Her lip began to quiver and she looked down at her hands. Finally she said…
“I’m sad when I see that my mom is sad. I don’t want her to be sad. When I see her that way it makes me sad.”
I’ve made many people cry on camera over the years. This was different. This was real. My wife has called me the male Barbara Walters and I always took pride in that compliment. At this moment, I didn’t feel proud…I felt numb. This is a little girl who will die if she doesn’t get a heart transplant. There are thousands of people who are in need of organ and tissue transplants that will die if time runs out on them while they are on the waiting list. The reality hit me at that moment. I felt tears start to well up inside me. That had not happened to me…ever. If one person watching this video or reading this post goes to the registry or signs up at the DLD…then it was worth it.
I’ll keep you posted on how Danae is doing. She is a fighter, a survivor and stronger in many respects than I’ll ever be. I’ll keep up with the family and share with you happy moment and even setbacks. One thing I’ve learned in my short time here is that bringing awareness, good or bad is at the heart of what my duties will be. People live and people die. Those are the hard facts. My job is to take you behind the curtain and show you the real stories.
I made an eleven year old little girl cry and I’ll do it again.