On my third anniversary of my life saving double lung transplant, I sit here thinking about expressing my thanks and gratitude to my donor Cheryl's Family for making the courageous decision to donate her organs during their time of sudden loss, grief and despair; I am not sure how many other lives she saved through organ, tissue and cornea donation.
The fact that her family thought about me and my urgent need for a life saving double lung transplant that they had the compassion to ask if they could make a direct donation to me if Cheryl's lungs would be a match. This was made possible through the Direct Anatomical Donation Law as it relates to deceased donors to a potential living recipient.
I did not personally know Cheryl and her husband Chuck other than meeting them on two occasions. My daughter-in-law's brother was married to Cheryl's daughter and that is how they knew of my crisis.
When the Organ Procurement Coordinator from CORE said that I had a better chance of winning the powerball lottery by matching blood types, tissue, anti-bodies, size and other criteria but they would check to see if they were a match.
By the Grace of God Cheryl's lungs were a perfect match for me! This was and is a genuine Christmas Miracle! For one to understand the dynamics of my story here are some facts:
I was transplanted at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa.
I live approximately 60 miles away in East Liverpool, Ohio.
Cheryl was from Wellsville, Ohio which is a small town that borders East Liverpool.
On Christmas Eve, Cheryl slipped and fell on the ice as a result of suffering from a brain aneurism and was life flighted from our local hospital to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. She passed away from having multiple strokes while the medical experts tried to save her life.
I was inpatient in the pre-transplant unit barely surviving on 25 liters of continuous oxygen. My children were told I was days away from probably going on a ventilator and possibly not being able to survive.
The staff came into my room on Christmas Day and told me they had lungs for me but I could not be transplanted until the next day. This news came after three previous false alarms for me receiving lungs during the month of December.
So as I thank God everyday for letting me live to see my children raise my seven beautiful grandchildren, I am dedicated to telling my story and encouraging people to become organ donors so their families don't have to make such a heartfelt decision during the sudden passing of a loved one.
When I think about the 120,000 people on the transplant list and with on average of 22 people passing away daily waiting for a life saving organ transplant I ask everyone I know to register to become an organ donor because you never know if you will need one or a loved one, family member or close friend!
I want to thank everyone who has supported me in my journey from the expert medical personnel at UPMC, friends, Family and prayer warriors who stood by my side to see me through this fascinating journey but especially to my three children Carrie, Billy and Eric along with their spouses Brian, Kristina and Courtney! Without your love and support I would not be here today!