One more year....

Yesterday was a somber day for it to be the day on which I was born. Maybe my transplantiversary held so much fanfare that my real birthday paled in comparison. I don't know what it was that made the day different, but it was.

It was my first birthday since I have been back on my feet and the first birthday that I was told I might not get to celebrate. I was not upset, sad, or anything of the like just reflective. Maybe some of the emotion of the transplant is just now starting to hit me.

I don't want to come off as not enjoying yesterday because it was a great day. Heck, it was a great weekend and I did absolutely nothing! Mowing the grass, sitting on the couch, a soccer game, church, eating, and a new bible study made for one of the best weekends I have had in a long time.

I was thinking yesterday about how far I have come in a year. Many times I lose sight of that when I have a goal and I want to meet it now. On my birthday last year, I was in my cousin's wedding with 56 staples in my stomach unable to stand up straight. I was tired walking from the back of the church to the front and thought I was going to pass out more than one time during the ceremony. I was yelled at for picking up my little cousin when she came running to me and constantly asked if I was okay. In contrast to last year, I spent yesterday sore from a heavy leg workout on Friday and from playing in an alumni soccer game on Saturday.

It is still hard to believe how far God has brought me in a year. I try not to get too religious on this blog, but as a Christian I feel that I need to thank God publicly for the gift that he blessed me with and for the health that he restored. I feel a bit like Job after everything had been taken from him and restored to him double what he had. I have been given a new life and I intend to live it double what I did the first one for Christ. There have been a lot of people pray for me and help out along the way in various ways. To those people, I want to say thank you for everything, the money, the phone calls, the prayers, the support, the questions, the smiles, and so many other things.

To the family who was able to show the greatest compassion to me that anyone ever has in their greatest time of need, I say thank you. I have no doubt that, short a miracle from God, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for their unselfish decision. I hope that one day I will get to meet them and thank them for donating their loved ones organs to me and possibly others.

As Donate Life month draws to a close, I urge everyone who reads this blog to donate your organs upon your death. Sign a card, tell your family you want to be a donor, and be a hero to a few of the 95,000+ people on the transplant waiting lists. Transplantation works!


Update on Me- Good News

Not a lot going on currently in the organ donation world concerning me. There is a ton going on with me right now being the final 20 days of the school year. I feel that I am running crazy doing absolutely nothing and getting absolutely nowhere.

Anyways, good news on the transplant front. I went to the clinic on Wednesday and my liver numbers were the best they have been since the transplant. This was good news since they lowered my prednisone. The last three times they tried to lower me from 15mg to 10mg a day my numbers went NUTS!!! This time they held steady and actually dropped even more. The doctors seemed happy with this because they are thinking that the CMV kept returning because they had my immune system too low. Lowering my prednisone should boost my immune system hopefully keeping that monster away. They also mentioned that my prograf (the most important immunosuppressant, or so they act like it is) levels were getting on the upper end of the scale so they may be able to lower it in the near future as well. I am scared to brag too much on how I am doing because it always seems that shortly after I end up staying a night or three at the Emory Express.

I am starting to gain weight and my lifts in the gym are starting to go up. It is pretty exciting starting to feel healthy again and having energy to go along with that feeling. Anyways, that is all the news that is fit to report about me and my new liver.

It is still organ donation month, don't forget to sign up to be an organ donor and let your family know that upon your death you want your organs donated. Transplantation works!! I am living proof!


Virginia Tech Donor

First off, my prayers and thought are with all of the families and students affected by the senseless massacre that took place on the Virginia Tech campus. I have NEVER, and hope that I never will have to, experience death at the hands of something so tragic and unexpected. I can't imagine what the families and friends of those victims must be going through. I do not want this post to sound like I am insensitive to what happened, that is not the case at all.

With that said, I heard somewhere that one of the victims was an organ donor and they performed a transplant with their organs on April 16. (I wish I could remember where, and if I do I will link to the story) Congratulations to the person or persons who received the organs and were given a second chance at life! I wonder if they will feel more guilt than most of us because of the high profile case surrounding their transplant. I wonder if they even know if their organs came from the victim mentioned. Every time they turn on the TV they are seeing the story of how they got their second chance. Just something I have been thinking about since I heard the story. Most of us recipients are oblivious (at least for a time) to the heartache that the families went through so we could have our second chance. These recipients may or may not be oblivious to that heartache. I am sure they are grateful for their gift, but the reason for that gift is in their face with each click of the remote.


Donate Life Walk

On Saturday, I made my way to Jasper to take part in walk to support organ donation. I was able to meet a few new people who have had a transplant (victim's...as some people call us). I always enjoy meeting new people who have been affected by organ donation and transplantation. There were a couple of recipients there with their donor families. This was a neat experience to see them together. It made me start thinking that I really need to begin writing my letter. (more on that later)

The turnout for the walk was not what was expected because of the warning for rain. The rain held off and we had a great time walking through town letting people know about organ donation. I want to thank everyone who donated some money to me. I ended up raising $500 that I turned over to the people in charge of the walk to give to the Georgia Transplant Foundation. I received an email late yesterday saying that they had raised about $2000 total.

After taking part in the walk, I am considering trying to get something going to support organ donation. I am not sure what that will be and I do not know what it entails to get something like that up. I know that it would be a HUGE undertaking, but I can always use one more thing to keep me busy! Maybe I will post more on this in a future blog. If any of you have any ideas, email me or leave them as a comment on this post.


Organ Donation Month


I meant to post this yesterday but life got in the way. I had plenty of time yesterday to sit down and write a little bit, I guess I was just lazy and let it slip by me. So on the 2nd day of April I will let everyone know that this is an important month for me and all the other transplant recipients of the world. April is National Donate Life Month!! So with that I want everyone to be aware of the fact that there is an extreme shortage of organs in the world. At the bottom of this post I will post the current numbers on how many people are currently waiting for an organ transplant.

If you want to be an organ donor, (hopefully, if you are reading my story, you do) be sure to sign a donor card and LET YOUR FAMILY KNOW OF YOUR WISH TO BE AN ORGAN DONOR!! Upon your death, no matter if you signed a card or not, the choice of organ donation goes to your family. Even if it is in your will to donate, the procurement agency (Lifelink of Georgia, Florida, and Puerto Rico, anyways) will not take your organs. They do this out of respect for your family who are grieving at the moment. They do not want to cause your family any more heartache than they are already experiencing. So let your family know that you want to be an organ donor today!! Remind them often too! Transplantation works! I am living proof as well as some others who have links on the left side of my page.

Last year, I got out of Emory Express on April 5 (my dad's birthday) after 10 days in the hospital. I had not been outside since the surgery and was happy to be out. The first thing I noticed was a banner with a green ribbon declaring April Organ Donation Month on the bridge that joins the hospital and clinic. I remember thinking that I never knew about Organ Donation month before, and never really cared, but that banner meant the world to me at the time. For the next month, I passed that banner going to the clinic for bloodwork every morning. I never got tired of seeing the banner on the bridge knowing that thousands of people saw it everyday as they drove back and forth to work, school, or wherever else they may go. I think now, how my family, and even me, bought into the myths that surround organ donation and was not sold on the idea that it worked. Then it all hit home, I was affected with a condition that would require my family to count on someone who did not know me to save my life. I thank God everyday for that person and the family who made the decision. I will never be able to put into words how much they mean to me. If I ever do get to meet them, that will be one of the greatest days of my life. I do not know if they had been personally affected by organ donation and transplatation, but their decision saved my life. Become an organ donor and save someone else's life if something happens to yours. Organ donation is supported by every religion as it is the greatest gift, unselfish love to another!

"Don't take your organs to heaven, cause the Lord knows we need them here!!"

I drive with one of those same green ribbons on the back of my truck today and I love when people ask me what it stands for (I chuckle inside every time they ask because it says "Support Organ Donation" on it), and why I have it. It gives me the opportunity to talk to them about organ donation and get a feel for what they think about the process. I enjoy talking to people about organ donation and telling my story. I am not one to talk openly about myself, though most people who don't know me and read this probably don't believe. I tend to shy away from all conversation with people I don't know unless the topic of organ donation comes up, then I am an open book. So ask me about my transplant and about organ donation. I will not try to change your mind about organ donation. I will give you the facts and let you be a big boy or girl, and make the decision for yourself!!

Here are the current numbers from OPTN:

Waiting list candidates as of today 4/2/07 at 6:37pm
All 95,791
Kidney 70,866
Pancreas 1,730
Kidney/Pancreas 2,363
Liver 16,913
Intestine 230
Heart 2,830
Lung 2,810
Heart/Lung 121
All candidates will be less than the sum due to candidates waiting for multiple organs