Photo: flikr/Army Medicine
American service members risk their lives in the line of duty so that other people may live and enjoy freedoms worth fighting for.That sobering truth is all the more real in the intensive care unit of the U.S. Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical centre, Germany, where combat casualties from Afghanistan, and previously Iraq, are flown in enroute to the U.S.
Gregg Zoroya at USA Today reports that in the last six years, 36 mortally wounded troops arriving at Landstuhl directly saved the lives of 140 civilians in Europe.
Organs from those troops, who were pronounced brain dead, were donated to patients in desperate need of a transplant.
20-one year old Marine Cpl. Sean Osterman was one of those heroes.
His mother, Kelly Hugo, recounted to Zoroya that she traveled through a December snowstorm two years ago to arrive in Germany where she saw Sean for the last time. The U.S. military flies family members to the medical centre for an emotional but much-needed “final reunion”.
Cpl. Osterman had been deployed to Helmand province when he was severely wounded in combat. Devastating shots to his face caused irreversible brain damage and he was put on a ventilator to keep his body going. At Landstuhl medical centre, his mother was gently asked about organ donation.
She didn’t hesitate to approve three, including her son’s heart.
“Something good has to come out of something bad,” she said.
A single service member can provide multiple transplants, saving numerous more lives.
Data collected by the German foundation for organ donations shows the highest number of transplants took place in 2010, with 10 fallen service members making 47 donations possible. A complete chart of the compelling data over the last several years is available via USA Today here.
What happens at Landstuhl Regional Medical centre — miles from the frontline in Afghanistan — illustrates a touching impact on the lives of everyday people by those who wore the uniform.
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