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Posts Tagged ‘Charity’

That title is actually be a bit misleading, as it may suggest that I have all the answers for the Church’s stand on organ donation.  I actually do not.  And I cannot speak on behalf of the Church.  But I do have some thoughts and suggestions that might give my faithful brethren and readers a jumping off point for further research.  And this is important because many Catholics have no idea that there is anything possibly wrong with the current state of organ donation.

But there is.

First, let me quote some pieces from a recent editorial commentary in the Wall Street Journal.  The commentary is written by Dick Teresi, author of The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating Heart Cadavers–How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death.  As he says,

Becoming an organ donor seems like a win-win situation. Some 3.3 people on the transplant waiting list will have their lives extended by your gift (3.3 is the average yield of solid organs per donor). You’re a hero, and at no real cost, apparently.

But what are you giving up when you check the donor box on your license? Your organs, of course—but much more. You’re also giving up your right to informed consent. Doctors don’t have to tell you or your relatives what they will do to your body during an organ harvest operation because you’ll be dead, with no legal rights.

You might ask yourself why you might care that you or your loved one no longer have legal rights, so Mr. Teresi explains why.  You don’t get any say in the tests used to determine your “death.”  As long time readers know, the tests for brain death are sketchy, non-uniform, individualistic and subjective.  He writes:

The exam for brain death is simple. A doctor splashes ice water in your ears (to look for shivering in the eyes), pokes your eyes with a cotton swab and checks for any gag reflex, among other rudimentary tests. It takes less time than a standard eye exam. Finally, in what’s called the apnea test, the ventilator is disconnected to see if you can breathe unassisted. If not, you are brain dead.

Hmmm, by this definition of brain death, I have personally as a lifeguard brought two people back from death.  Because that is what CPR is: breathing for individuals who aren’t breathing for themselves.  Mr. Teresi points out that even though such a person is now considered by organ harvesters as brain dead, they actually have much more in common with the living than the dead.  Their organs still function, they still heal, control their internal temperatures, etc.  And that is not all.

You might also be emitting brainwaves. Most people are surprised [note: shocked and disbelieving is more accurate] to learn that many people who are declared brain dead are never actually tested for higher-brain activity. The 1968 Harvard committee recommended that doctors use electroencephalography (EEG) to make sure the patient has flat brain waves. Today’s tests concentrate on the stalk-like brain stem, in charge of basics such as breathing, sleeping and waking. The EEG would alert doctors if the cortex, the thinking part of your brain, is still active.

But various researchers decided that this test was unnecessary, so it was eliminated from the mandatory criteria in 1971. They reasoned that, if the brain stem is dead, the higher centers of the brain are also probably dead.

[emphasis mine]

My thought here is that the harvesting team does not actually want to know if the donor is dead yet.  Nearly dead is close enough for them.

John Shea, M.D. has written for Catholic Insight:

Since 1968, vital organs, necessary for life, have been removed from patients for transplantation. Since then, this has been morally justified by the claim that the donor is “brain dead” or has suffered “cardiac death.” Brain death is defined as complete and irreversible loss of all brain function and cardiac death is declared two to five minutes after cessation of the heartbeat.

The moral problem is that the criteria used to declare that brain death or cardiac death has occurred are arbitrary, and open to continuing serious world-wide debate. They do not necessarily provide moral certainty that real death has occurred, and that such organ retrieval does not actually cause the death of the donor.

Many medical ethicists are concerned with this lack of certainty of an actual death in brain death cases.  Are you comfortable placing the end of your life decision in the hands of these medical professionals?  Is there reason to doubt their commitment to your best interests?  Actually, yes, yes there is.

Organ transplantation—from procurement of organs to transplant to the first year of postoperative care—is a $20 billion per year business. Recipients of single-organ transplants—heart, intestine, kidney, liver, single and double lung and pancreas—are charged an average $470,000, ranging from $288,000 for a kidney transplant to $1.2 million for an intestine transplant, according to consulting firm Milliman. Neither donors nor their families can be paid for organs.

Mr. Teresi does not mention the big gifts which the donor hospital receives in all this exchanging of organs.  But they do.  Providing organs is a very lucrative business for hospitals.

In his WSJ article, Mr. Teresi informs us that the current criteria on brain death were set by a Harvard Medical School committee in 1968.  In 1981, all 50 states adopted the Harvard brain death as a definition of death.  It is enlightening to read a bit from that important Harvard commission (quoting from).

Secular attempts to define death in this regard have not been all that successful.  Indeed, rather than use any sort of consistent biological or philosophical criteria, the concerns which seem to be driving definitions of death in the public sphere today are their relative expediency for procuring successful organ donation.  This trend started decades ago when the now famous Harvard brain death commission moved us toward a neurological (rather than cardio-pulmonary) criteria:

Our primary purpose is to define irreversible coma as a new criterion for death. There are two reasons why there is a need for a definition: (1) Improvements in resuscitative and supportive measures have led to increased efforts to save those who are desperately injured. Sometimes these efforts have only a partial success so that the result is an individual whose heart continues to beat but whose brain is irreversibly damaged. The burden is great on patients who suffer permanent loss of intellect, on their families, on the hospitals, and on those in need of hospital beds already occupied by these comatose patients. (2) Obsolete criteria for the definition of death can lead to controversy in obtaining organs for transplantation.

As Peter Singer, an atheist philosopher at Princeton who rejects brain death as a criterion for bodily death, notes this as a remarkable moment of honesty in bioethics:

[T]he Harvard committee does not even attempt to argue that there is a need for a new definition of death because hospitals have a lot of patients in their wards who are really dead, but are being kept attached to respirators because the law does not recognize them as dead.  Instead, with unusual frankness, the committee said that a new definition was needed because irreversibly comatose patients were a great burden, not only on themselves (why to be in an irreversible coma is a burden on the patient, the committee did not say), but also on their families, hospitals, and patients waiting for beds.           source

Catholic Moral Theology article drily states that “[t]oday we are still dealing with the incoherence of criteria for death driven by the need for organs.”  Indeed.

So where does this leave faithful Catholics, trying to live our pro-life mandate?  Pope Benedict has said

“The main criterion,” the Pope said, must be “respect for the life of the donor so that the removal of organs is allowed only in the presence of his actual death.”

The Pope is likely to have been referring to the L’Osservatore Romano article when he told the Transplant Conference, “Science, in recent years has made further progress in the determination of the death of a patient.” In the question of determination of death, the Pope cautioned, “there must not be the slightest suspicion of arbitrariness. Where certainty cannot be achieved, the principle of precaution must prevail.”

In the 1995 Encyclical Evangelium vitae (Gospel of Life), Pope John Paul commended organ donation as an unselfish gift of life, but he cautioned that the question of death must be answered by “moral certitude” in order for the gift to be morally legitimate.  The Pope said that organs may only be removed after death – “that is, from the body of someone who is certainly dead.”

“Certainly dead.”  The problem is that the medical profession which has a well-earned attitude for arrogance and expedience, is not at all interested in being certain of death.  Not all doctors, of course, but enough with plenty of individual latitude in declaring death (and then making it so) to make people of faith and intellect think twice.  And we should think twice.  I never gave this any thought, was never aware of the controversies in organ donation until this very topic affected me personally.  Until it took away someone I loved.  Since then, I have been educating myself and trying to educate others.  I’ve been collecting and sharing stories of supposedly “miraculous recoveries” by medically declared dead patients.  I have a half dozen such stories still to publish.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center states that a properly diagnosed neurological death can only be determined following an evaluation of the entire brain, including the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brain stem in order to determine the complete cessation of all organized neurological activity. Of course, it also calls me “irresponsible” but it goes on to make my point, which is “that the neurological criteria must be rigorously and consistently applied and a judgment made of total brain death before a person is declared dead” — but that unfortunately is just not happening with consistency and assurance.

Therefore, I am going to heed and recommend Mr. Teresi’s advice.  He ends his WSJ commentary by suggesting that prospective donors not sign away their rights, and thereby retain bargaining power.  “If you leave instructions with your next of kin, they can perhaps negotiate a better deal. Instead of just the usual icewater-in-the-ears, why not ask for a blood-flow study to make sure your cortex is truly out of commission?”

To that extent, I encourage my readers to avoid signing donor authorizations that ipso facto sign away legal rights for you and your loved ones.  Require the full tests suggested by the NCBC and do not allow a determination of death if the the cerebrum and cerebellum are not also evaluated.  Determinations by brain stem activity alone are inadequate.

A living will specifying the criteria you wish used to determine your death, the manner and way in which your body both before death and after must be treated and specifying clearly that you are a Catholic who wishes to be treated in accordance with the teachings of the Church are all recommended.  (There used to be a place for Catholics to purchase and download these materials, called Legal Lifeguard but something seems wrong with the site.)

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From Fides Service:

AFRICA/COTE D’IVOIRE-“It is urgent to find accommodation for 27,000 displaced persons welcomed in the parish of Duékoué”: the concern of the Bishop of Man

Duékoué (Agenzia Fides) – The plague of the displaced persons welcomed in the parish of Duékoué, in western Côte d’Ivoire continues. In late March, following the conquest of the city by the Republican Forces in Côte d’Ivoire (RFCI) faithful to the current president Alassane Ouattara, about 27,000 people, mostly gueré ethnic group(supporters of President Gbagbo) have taken refuge in the small Catholic mission in the city.
“The situation gets more and more dramatic: 27,000 people living within the space of a small parish. Each of them live in just a square meter. The sanitary and health conditions are so poor, “says Bishop Gaspard Beby Gnéba, Bishop of Man to Fides, and Duékoué is part of this territory.
The UNMCI (United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire) ensures the safety of these people while Caritas provides meals and health service. The presence of UN soldiers, however, is not sufficient to reassure the refugees and bring them back home. “The uncertainty is still very strong. But the real problem is that these people have no home to go back to because their homes have been ransacked, destroyed and burned, “said Mgr. Gnéba. “It is urgent to find another place for these people, as well as guaranteeing security to those who still have a home and want to return. You then need to rebuild destroyed homes, ” concluded the Bishop of Man (LM) (Agenzia Fides 31/05/2011)

h/t Catholic Culture

see also my previous article:  Ivory Coast still in need of prayers, assistance.

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One of the most popular posts from the last few months is the one I did outlining the crisis in the Ivory Coast.  I thought I should update everyone.

As of two days ago, the former president, Laurent Gbagbo is reportedly still alive and under house arrest.  The country has just resumed cocoa bean production and export, but situation in the Ivory Coast is far from better.

New graves are discovered weekly and 30,000 displaced persons are still living in the mission outside of Duekoue, which I mentioned in the Original Post.  If you remember from the OP, that was a little mission, hardly equipped to handle that number of refugees.  When encouraged to go home, the refugees express fear that the attackers will return and kill them, so they remain on the grounds of the mission, the Salesian parish of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus.

But many doubt reconciliation can be achieved and entire villages in the west, close to the border with Liberia, remain devastated by abuses from both sides.

A UN human rights team has begun probing killings in Abidjan’s Yopougon district after UN workers on Friday found 68 bodies in 10 graves.

International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said meanwhile he intends to investigate massacres by both sides in a conflict which raised fears of a Rwanda-style genocide.

Nearly 30,000 displaced people are sheltering in a Catholic mission at Duekoue in the west while more than 100,000 have taken refuge in neighbouring Liberia.

“They told us to go back to our homes but those who killed our brothers — are they not going to come back?” said one frightened resident at the mission.

The Salesians have set up an emergency appeal, mostly aimed at humanitarian relief agencies.  However, perhaps you can help as well.  Donate here.  (the site is in Spanish)

And as always, our number one obligation as Christians is to lift up our prayers to Almighty God, who is our help and our shield.

Read more about the situation in Cote d’Ivoire here.

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Here is today’s tearjerker.  Fox News Chicago had a heartwarming and surprisingly pro-Christian piece on a local homeless man who has been helping to support a down-on-her-luck  banker.    Craig Wall reports:

Chicago – A year ago, everything was going right for a woman we’ll call Sandy.

She had a good job at a bank in the suburbs.

She and her 10-year-old son had a safe home.

But then the world came crashing down around the 39-year-old. She lost her job. She lost her house. And she and her son moved into her truck. Police found her and DCFS threatened to take away her son if she didn’t find a safe place to stay.

She moved into a hotel with the help of a social worker who paid for a few nights stay with her own money. That’s when Sandy’s knight in shining armor showed up. And he’s kept showing up, every day, paying her hotel bill, so she and her son can stay off the streets.

But Sandy’s Good Samaritan isn’t a Chicago big shot. He isn’t living in a Loop highrise. He doesn’t even have a job.

Sandy’s Good Samaritan is Curtis Jackson, who’s been homeless since 2004. He pays for Sandy’s hotel room because she used to treat him with dignity and kindness when she did have a house — and he pays for it by panhandling and giving the money to her.

“All I can do is get out there and put a sign in my hand, or put a cup in my hand and ask people to help me out, and everything I get, except maybe bus fare and something to eat, I give it to her,” Jackson said as he stood at the corner of 55th and Harlem.

Jackson pays the nightly bill by pouring his bucket of change on the hotel counter. Since December, he’s raised $9,000, and he’s given it all to Sandy. He said sometimes 40, 70, a hundred cars go by before someone gives him a few pennies or a few bucks.

Sandy can’t believe it.

“I’ve donated to charities, I’ve helped other homeless families — never realizing that one day we’d be in this situation,” she said. “So thank God that we did have an angel waiting for us.”

Here is the best part of the article, read the wisdom contained here:

Jackson said he’s a man of faith; homeless, but not hopeless, and he’s got some words of wisdom for the people he sees bustling by every day.

“I have God. I’m one of the richest men on this earth, ’cause I have God,” he said. “Money is not my master. That’s what’s wrong with this world: money is its master.”

Sandy said she doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to repay Jackson, who’s become like a brother.

“I’m out here for a purpose: to help someone, and that’s all I’m trying to do is help someone that needs help right at this moment,” he said. “And once she doesn’t need help anymore, I’ll move on to something else.”

I read this story and I ask myself, “What purpose does God have for me?  Who is it that I am helping today?” 

God bless and keep Curtis Jackson.  May we use his example to become better follower’s of Christ Jesus.

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Pope Benedict making the Sign of the Cross

 

Over at Catholic Answers, I came across this this link on a forum posting.  The minister at a very large Methodist Church in Texas has a series of sermons about different Christian faith traditions, in very charitable and ecumenical presentations. 

The series started with his appreciation of Roman Catholicism.  I listened to it and was very moved.  Not only would Protestants brothers and sisters benefit from it, but we Catholics as well.  Overall, the pastor gave a very fair presentation.  (A couple of his historical dates seem influenced by his Protestant background, e.g. the date of the establishment of Roman papal authority.)  But his historical overview is generally acceptable.  It’s what he has to say about the things he appreciates in Catholics where this sermon gets going, and surprising.  I’ve never known any Protestant to admire our Purgatory beliefs, for instance.   What else does our Methodist brother appreciate?  Not surprising: our commitment to life issues, our steadfastness against cultural attacks, and our work with the poor.  Oh, and of course, Authority.  Surprising: Sacramentals, liturgy, reverent ritualized prayer, candles, and the Sign of the Cross.  He even tackles the sex abuse scandal.

I got a bit choked up listening to it.

Here is the minister, Dr. Ed Robb, preaching on “Why I appreciate the Roman Catholics“.  (there is a video option as well).  Take time to listen to it; it just may make you appreciate your faith more.

The Woodlands UMC

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Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? Or distress? Or famine? Or nakedness? Or danger? Or persecution? Or the sword?  (As it is written: For your sake, we are put to death all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.)  But in all these things we overcome, because of him that has loved us.  For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.                                            –Romans 8:35-39

Last Friday, a yacht with four Americans was hijacked by pirates south of Oman.  Since then, American warships have been tailing the pirated yacht back to the pirates’ base in Somalia. From CBS News today, comes this sad ending to the Somali pirate hostage situation:

A pirate fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. Navy destroyer shadowing a hijacked yacht with four Americans aboard Tuesday. Then gunfire erupted, the military said. U.S. special forces rushed to the yacht only to find the four Americans fatally wounded.

 The experienced yacht enthusiasts from California and Washington are the first Americans killed by Somali pirates since the start of attacks off East Africa several years ago. One of the American couples on board had been sailing around the world since 2004 handing out Bibles.

Like a good number of people, I have been wondering what on earth made these four Americans sail in such dangerous waters.  Now we know:  they were acting as missionaries in the twilight of their years, bringing the good news to people who need to hear it.  Their yacht was stocked with bibles which they took to many third world locations.  From the Santa Monica newspaper, where their home parish is located, comes this story of how their faith community is grieving, and also telling us a bit more about these unconventional missionaries.  I am posting the entire article with the paper’s updates.

They were “very supportive of St. Monica’s, and over these last years, they took our mission—’to form loving disciples who will transform this world’—and did,” Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson tells Santa Monica Patch.

(Updated at 1:37 p.m.): On Tuesday afternoon, Torgerson shared with Santa Monica Patch his thoughts about Jean and Scott Adam.

“They’re an extraordinary couple, a wonderful part of our community,” the pastor said. “Jean had been my dentist, so I got to know her that way.”

The couple was highly active in the church, and two sons of Jean attended St. Monica Catholic High School.

They were “very supportive of St. Monica’s, and over these last years, they took our mission—’to form loving disciples who will transform this world’—and did,” Torgerson said.

The pastor said that, after working hard all their lives, Jean and Scott decided to “make a difference” in their retirement.

“Retirement for them was relaxed, but they went to the far-flung corners of this world and visited the poorest of the poor,” bringing Scripture to them, he said.

He added that the Scripture that was read during Mass on Tuesday morning says, “if you’re faithful, you’ll win the crown”—and, according to Torgerson, “that’s what they did.”

“They died doing what they wanted to do,” he said.

(Updated at 12:29 p.m.): The Rev. David Guffey, a priest who is in residence at the church, reflected on Jean and Scott Adam at the 12:10 p.m. Mass on Tuesday.

He told the congregation, which had gathered for the regular daily service, that “we do so today with special feelings of sadness and sympathy.”

He said the news was “tragic,” and that Torgerson is “working with” the grieving family of Jean and Scott Adam.

A funeral and a memorial service are pending, Guffey said.

Guffey noted that, last weekend, parishioners had lit a candle in the hope that the couple would return home safely.

“We pray for their eternal rest, and for their family and friends,” he said.

Torgerson said Tuesday that Jean and Scott were “faithful people” and that Jean sang in the church choir, according to City News Service.

“They were people that worked hard all their lives and decided in their retirement that they wanted to do something to make a difference in this world,” he said.

Family and friends of Jean and Scott Adam are mourning the deaths of the St. Monica Catholic Church parshioners, who were killed by Somali pirates early Tuesday. At the church’s morning Mass, Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson said the parish was heartbroken at the news, according to The Associated Press.

The couple had been on a voyage around the world, distributing Bibles.

The Bibles, which numbered in the thousands, had been donated to Jean and Scott Adam through grants and gifts. They referred to their effort to distribute them as “friendship evangelism.”

A “wonderful turn of events have occurred as a result of this endeavor,” the couple wrote on their Web site, SVQuest.com.

“They loved the experiences they were having with the people they were meeting and the places they were going,” Scott Stolnitz, a longtime friend of theirs, told CNN. “We asked them once if they ever looked forward to living on land again, and they both, believe it or not, said no.

“They were not proselytizing evangelicals,” he continued. “They were using their Bible mission as a way to break the ice in the Christian community, particularly in the Pacific.”

“This is all of our worst nightmares,” Stolnitz told the Los Angeles Times.

Stolnitz said the 70-year-old Scott Adam was laid-back, had a dry sense of humor and earned a theology degree later in life, after retiring as a film executive. Jean Adam was a retired dentist, according to CNN.

“She wore her heart on her sleeve,” Stolnitz said.

He added that, even though Jean Adam often got seasick on boats, she wanted to be with her husband and decided to sail with him.

“The Quest started an ‘around-the-world’ trip in mid December of 2004 after sailing her to the States from New Zealand in 2002,” the couple wrote on their site. “This is planned to be an eight or ten year voyage.”

The couple was aware of the dangers of piracy, friends told the Los Angeles Times. They said Scott had considered shipping the boat instead, but later decided not to after learning that a rally of yachts was headed to the Arabian and Red Seas.

Ten days ago, Jean and Scott said via e-mail that, in an effort to avoid being located by pirates, they would be out of communication for almost two weeks, according to BBC News.

“They basically had said, ‘We’re not going to be in communication for 10 or 12 days because we know this is territory where there could be problems and we don’t want pirates or other people to know our location,’ ” said Robert Johnston, a professor who taught Scott at the seminary he attended.

According to St. Monica’s Annual Reports, Jean and Scott Adam donated money to the Partners in Mission effort benefiting St. Monica Catholic High School. They donated to the effort’s campaigns in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

I do not understand what happened, why the pirates would kill these hostages with the US Navy right behind them.  But I believe that the Adams and their passengers died because they were following a call to witness for our faith, as part of the new evangelization.  And because of their followership, they put themselves into a dangerous position leading to their deaths.  This makes them martyrs for the faith, though maybe not technical martyrs, I don’t know how that is defined by the Church.

But I will pray for the eternal rest of their souls, for mercy for everyone involved, and comfort for their family and friends.  I thank God for their lives and example.

As it is written–

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

-Psalms 116.

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For our Holy Week, an uplifting story of a selfless conversion. Here is a story of a grandmother who has decided that 15 years of cancer treatment is enough, and that it’s time to distribute her wealth to those in need around her. 

After 15 years spent battling oral cancer, Washington resident Sonya Beard is giving up her fight — in order to give back to her community.

Fifteen years. That’s how long 74-year-old Sonya Beard has been fighting oral cancer. But now, after multiple surgeries and treatments, she says she has had enough. While her doctors wanted her to start radiation therapy, Beard is instead enjoying the time she has left, and making a huge difference in her community. She has already donated hundreds of thousands of dollars from her life savings to several organizations near her Mount Vernon, Wash., home, and she’s not done yet.

 Giving Back

A lifelong reader, Sonya’s first donation was $500,000 to the Mount Vernon City Library. In an exclusive interview with Tonic, she says that reading made her “the cornerstone of what I am today. I wouldn’t have been able to travel or do the things I have done without my love of books.”

As a child, Beard and family would go to the library on Saturday to get their books for the week. “I got to the point where I was obnoxious with my mother about trying to get my nose out of a book.” She has since instilled “a passion for books and reading” in her four grandchildren.

Beard couldn’t attend the library meeting when her donation was announced, but she finally made it down there on Monday. “I went this afternoon and I’m just thrilled to death with what they’re going to be able to do” with her donation, she says. The library is planning a major expansion that might not have been possible without Beard’s donation.

Thinking Forward

Beard has also donated $165,000 to Skagit Valley Hospital, also located in Mount Vernon, so they can purchase hyperbaric oxygen therapy equipment to help patients recover from surgeries like the ones Beard has endured. Until this, the closest hyperbaric equipment was in Seattle, more than 60 miles away.

“I found it necessary to undergo the treatment after one of my surgeries, but I was not able to travel,” she says. “I had to rent an apartment down there for six weeks. It’s a terrible handicap for a person to have to move themselves to another area. A lot of people in Mount Vernon don’t have the means to relocate themselves down there. I knew we had patients that needed it here and they couldn’t afford it.”

Beard has been pushing the hospital to get the new equipment up and running quickly. “I was just down there to see the progress on the oxygen chamber. They’re moving fast. They’re remodeling the wound center now, and we’re hoping for an opening in June.”

More to Come

Her battle with cancer has also inspired her to create a foundation, which will be established where she had her surgeries at the University of Washington Medical Center, after her death. “You may not know this,” she says, “but people with oral cancer are not reimbursed by insurance for dental prostheses. I set up in my will that they’ll have a foundation that will be able to pay for people who need these prostheses.”

Beard was able to purchase her own prosthesis, but it had to be removed just five months later when her doctors found more cancer. “I spent over $20,000 for a prosthesis I only had for five months. That was very discouraging to think that this might happen to someone else. It’s not right to say that this is cosmetic when it’s the only means you have for eating. There’s way too many people walking around without teeth because they won’t be able to pay for it.”

Beard’s charitable contributions don’t end there. She just paid off the mortgage at Bethany Convent Church, her church of the last ten years, and she is considering additional donations in her town. “My way is to help as many as I possibly can,” she says. “And if that helps future generations as well, that’s even better.”

A Positive Outlook

Despite her cancers, which also includes a battle with breast cancer eight years ago, Beard remains a positive person who enjoys her life. “It’s become a way of life,” she says of her cancer. “But really, other people have it worse. So we won’t dwell on that,” she laughs.

“I have been extremely fortunate with my life,” she says. “I never thought I would be in a position to do something like this. I don’t have the education, but somehow I did it.”

But Beard did learn from the people she met in her life. She learned how to invest when she worked as secretary for stockbrokers and bankers, a talent that has made these current donations possible.

In an interview with local KOMO News, Beard said, “I’m not a wealthy person, I’m not a famous person — but I feel like if I can stimulate one person to get the ball rolling then we can make a difference.”

Beard’s husband passed away 11 years ago, leaving her with three step-sons she considers “her wonderful boys.” “They’ve given me four wonderful grandchildren,” she says. “My life is complete with them.”

I would be very interested to know how much faith played a role in this woman’s decision.  I bet alot.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t something the writer covered. 

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