An Organ Donor?


An Organ Donor?

When Lori, my sister, told me that she was an organ donor, I thought she was nuts.

Hilary's sister LoriDon’t get me wrong, I am a big believer in giving to charity and giving back, but the thought of someone taking out my lungs or my eyes, freaked me out.

But, I may have had a change of heart. After my sister had a stroke and was in a coma for longer than anticipated, the people from Live on NY took her family into a private area and told us that Lori’s lungs would go toward a young man, 35, who had cystic fibrosis. Her kidneys would go to someone else in need. These people would have a second chance.

Although I was distraught over the whole thing, it gave a little meaning to this tragedy.

What I didn’t like was that the folks from Live on NY harvested her organs so that they would be prime for extraction. It made me feel uncomfortable that they were treating her as an object and not the beautiful person that she was.

They told us that once they took the ventilator out, she would need to die within 60 minutes, otherwise they would be unable to take her vital parts. “Don’t worry, we can always take her eyes and her skin after she passes, if this doesn’t work,” the woman from Live on NY told us.

I didn’t like it. The whole thing made me feel uncomfortable. They were keeping her alive to harvest the organs. She lived at least a week longer than she needed to live, melting away in a coma.

It was horrendous to watch. Even thinking about it again puts tears in my eyes. My beautiful sister’s body was being harvested and I had no control over what was going on.

When two of her work friends came to visit her, the folks from Live on NY were there taking blood and talking about how they were going to take her body parts while she was still alive and in front of the colleagues. I was mortified. How dare they!

Hilary and her sister LoriAnd yet, when we went for surgery and they extracted the breathing tube, she continued to live. She lived another week after that, passed her 60 birthday, passed my mom’s birthday and then on May 3rd, early in the morning she passed away.

Hmmm… will I be an organ donor? I doubt it after watching what she went through.




  1. Greg Demetriou

    I am sure you experienced the most seriously poor bedside manners. Talking in such a matter of fact way and reducing a beautiful human being to raw materials is inexcusable. However, if one can look past the poor end of life treatment your sister was subjected to then and only then can the value of organ donation be understood and honored. Lori decided to help others in the most profound way. It is there that your memories and devotion to who she was should lie. As far as those who facilitated her wishes they have a long way to go in training their people in compassion for the living, grieving and loving family members.

    1. Hilary Topper

      Thanks for your comments Greg… I agree. They definitely need to be a little more caring. When you work in that field, you become somewhat detached. I always try to put myself in the other person’s shoes. If they did that, it may have been different.

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