I am honored to partner with Donate Life Wyoming to talk about organ, eye and tissue donation as this cause is near and dear to my heart – and the only reason I am alive today.
MY TRANSPLANT STORY
I was diagnosed with the genetic disease cystic fibrosis (CF) when I was a baby. CF is a genetic disease which mainly affects the lungs and digestive system. Individuals with CF produce extra thick, sticky mucus that blocks the airways, pancreas and other organs, causing lung tissue to become infected, and over time die so individuals with CF eventually suffocate to death.
As a young girl, I knew the life expectancy (at the time) for individuals with cystic fibrosis was in the early twenties. I was relatively healthy so I assumed I would live a little longer than average – so maybe into my late twenties, early thirties. I very matter of factly concluded that I would never get married and definitely would never have children. In the meantime, I spent hours a day trying to preserve healthy lungs through breathing treatments, chest physical therapy and dozens and dozens of pills.
When I was 14, my funny, kind, humble, quick witted 19-year-old brother, Justin, died due to cystic fibrosis. He died on the lung transplant waiting list, waiting and hoping for a lung transplant. We miss him every single day and will continue to miss him until we meet again.
A year after my brother’s death, my sophomore year of high school, the end stages of lung destruction brought on by cystic fibrosis put me in a downward spiral. At age 16, I was dying. I was on constant oxygen, constant IV antibiotics, throwing up constantly, no appetite, almost continual 102-104 fevers and so weak I’d have to brush my teeth in bed.
I was placed on the lung transplant list but time was my enemy. To make long story short (you can read more HERE and my love story HERE), two family friends, my heroes, stepped up and volunteered to each donate a lobe of their lungs to me. Everyone has five lobes that constitute your two lungs – three on the right side and 2 on the side of a heart. In a living lobar lung transplant, all 5 lobes are taken out of the patient and replaced with the bottom lobe from two donors.
I am breathing today, alive today, and forever grateful today because these two men had the courage to YES to organ donation – even while they were alive! My family and I can never thank them enough for making my life possible! Their selflessness, love, and courage are the true meaning of being a hero.
YOU CAN BE SOMEONE’S HERO!
My brother and I were too sick to wait for a traditional lung transplant. In fact, thousands of individuals die on transplant waiting lists every year. But what if individuals didn’t have to die from waiting and families grieve?! YOU are the answer!
Organ, eye and tissue donation provides lifesaving and healing opportunities to nearly 120,000 people waiting for transplants nationwide. Donors are Heroes, giving recipients a second chance and ability to return to their jobs, hobbies, time with family and loved ones, and more. Being a donor allows others to see, to hear, to move and to LIVE! Donation is a way to give the ultimate gift – the gift of life.
Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation Facts
- You can sign up to be a donor even if you have diabetes or other illness. Each person’s medical condition is evaluated at the time of death to determine what organs and tissues are viable for donation.
- Share your decision to be a donor with your family. Discussing donation with your family will help them support your decision.
- Donation doesn’t cost you or your family anything.
- Your decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor will not interfere with your medical care.
- Doctors and nurses caring for you before death are not involved in the donation process.
- Donation will not interfere with funeral arrangements, including an open casket or viewing. Donors and their families are treated with the utmost respect and care.
- All major religions support donation, and many view it as an act of love and generosity.
- Transplant matches made within ethnic groups can be more compatible. That is why it is important for people in all communities to register their decision to be donors.
- One donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and save or heal more than 75 lives through eye and tissue donation.
- Nearly 200 people in the Wyoming community are currently waiting for a lifesaving transplant.
- Say “yes” to organ, eye and tissue donation each time you obtain or renew a driver license or state ID, or at http://po.st/luj6CQ anytime.
SIGN UP TODAY
Register to become an organ, eye and tissue donor at http://po.st/luj6CQ. It only takes minutes but can save lives!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Donate Life Wyoming.. The opinions and text are all mine.