To recap a century-old tale, the Gift of the Magi was an O. Henry short story dealing with a young woman in New York.  This young lady decided to give up her lush, delicate hair to sell it so she could afford to buy a holiday gift for her young husband.  The young husband did something similar for his wife.  Basically, the story was about the Gift of Self.

This year as in all years this gift is available for all of us to give, with even less daily personal sacrifice than with the lady in The Gift of the Magic, but with much greater human efficacy.

The gift is making our organs available for medical donation.  It is easily and practically automatically done through the State of California DMV ID registration and various online outlets throughout the nation.  This is a gift that we no longer would need for ourselves, and unless we do this, our organs will in fact quickly turn into the most typical smelly human wastes with no convenient toilet to flush them away.  But by donating our organs to help someone else live, we are giving even our most humble organ a chance to hold a place of honor in a kind of post mortal life.

In the discussions over the years, I have heard no good argument against organ donation.  I have heard only a few people worry that an organ donation will not leave him intact for a resurrection realm.  Since I consider myself to have a large religious dimension myself, this objection did in fact interest me, but I feel that at least in the Christian area where I have some learning the most crucial Christian principles have a basis in common sense. 

Disqualifying everyone from resurrection who is not physical intact would in fact deny every hero who has ever died being blown apart on a battlefield or coping heroically in any other such explosive catastrophe.  To my thinking, the attraction of resurrection is not in hanging onto our old organs, but earning ourselves a brand-new life in their place.

And so even though I have heard the idea of resurrection getting in the way of organ donation only a couple of time, you can probably understand that I take the religious dimension of any issue seriously, including this very important issue.

And so since O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi is a story of New York City, and since I spent almost twenty years in NYC before coming to Southern California, the borough of Manhattan’s recent project to facilitate the donation of organs has recently been of special interest to me.

The program has involved having a special ambulance marked “Organ Preservation Unit” and painted bright red and white to facilitate travel and time in what are often what time-sensitive transplants need.  The ambulance arrives at the scene of any 911 call in response to cardiac arrest in the vicinity of Manhattan Island. This ambulance would operate separately from the traditional ambulance that arrived at the emergency call, and it would not be even visible let alone active at the scene until the person who is required to be between 18 and 60 years old had been pronounced deceased.  The initial project in New York City was limited to kidney transplants, since there would be less rush and urgency in time values to transplant kidneys than other organs.

The program was created in response to the great gap in the New York City area for available organs trying to meet the needs of people urgently needing organs.  According to the New York Organ Network, there were only 285 deceased organ donors in 2009 to meet the needs of about 7,600 people waiting for an organ transplant in the Greater New York City area.  This is considered typical of donated organ shortfall throughout the nation right now.  The shortfall across the country remains enormous.

So, thank you for thinking about how you can help in this holiday period of giving.

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.