What does organ transplant mean to you? To me, it doesn’t have just one meaning, it’s a true story.
To a fifteen year old teenager, its meaning is Impossible. Let me take you back to the summer of 2001.
After a painful heart Catherization, I was placed in a cold, dark room to recover. Later, my dad and aunt entered the room with a very distraught look on their faces. I remember asking my dad if he was alright. Up until that moment, I had never seen that man cry. They remained silent. No words were spoken. They both just hugged me. I knew this wasn’t good. Soon after, many physicians entered into my room. So many emotions ran through my head. They all started to speak, all I heard was “Blah, Blah, Blah, You will not be leaving this hospital until you get a heart Transplant!” WHAT? Wait. Back UP! That can’t be right. The first thing that ran through my head wasn’t that I was dying. No. I was mad that I would be missing that Friday Night’s Movie night with friends. Followed by, Oh MY GOSH…I’m going to miss MY summer! Friends, boys, movies, concerts, BOYS…. Life as I had known it was going to change, wither I wanted it to or not!
Without going into detail, the process of becoming listed to wait for an organ began. Endless testing, countless tubes of blood drawn, etc. My life was moving so fast. To me, it felt like it just STOPPED! I felt alone. Sad. Confused. Ashamed. Mad. The list continued to go on. Then finally one day, I met another girl about my age who was also waiting for a lifesaving organ. Life again, changed! This time, It felt a little more in my control. That girl had a name, It was Lindsey Furhman. She taught me how to love life no matter what situation I was put in. Her and her family taught me just what it meant to be patient and kind. They taught me how to love myself, and no matter what, I would never be alone. God had a plan for us all, even if it wasn’t the plan I had, it was still a plan!
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a very spiritual person. But, that family left an impression on my heart and soul. An impression that I would need to carry on with life. To this very day, we are all very close. The two of us will have an internal bond, which no other person will ever have, understand, or experience. I will always be forever thankful and blessed to meet her and her family.
Early July, I got my first call that a heart had become available. I went through the entire process of becoming “prepped” for surgery. Right before they wheeled me to the OR, my dad was stuck in traffic, So I kept asking for just a couple more minutes to go in. They agreed. But time continued to tick. They told me, we had no more time to wait, things had to be in order for this entire process to happen. I couldn’t fathom I was about to go into this cold, scary OR without seeing my father? Well, the answer was No. Mid way into the OR, and a young man was running down the hall. My surgeon walked over to me and spoke words that hurt more than anyone will ever know. She told me, “Christine, the heart was no good. You are not having a transplant today!” Emotionally, my life had changed again. I didn’t know how I would emotionally recovered from what is called a “Dry run”. Well, I did. I have no idea how, but I did.
August 17, 2001, is a date that will forever touch so many lives. It was the day I got the greatest gift anyone could ever receive. I got my life saving Transplant. On that day, I was re-born. I was given a new life. I got the “call” sometime in the middle of the night. It was one of my doctors telling me that they had found another heart. That it seemed to be a perfect match, but as I knew, it wasn’t guarantee until it was placed into my chest and beating. Hours passed. All my friends and Family were in my hospital room. Not a dry eye was to be found. Hugs were being passed. Prayers were being said. As they wheeled me to the OR, I felt at peace with the situation. I honestly don’t remember feeling that scared. I can remember feeling excitement. Yes, I was excited for what was in store for me. I somehow knew my life was not ending, that it was about to just begin. Indeed did it! My surgery was an success.
Today, I celebrate 15 years with my “New” heart. Every day I am thankful for the stranger that said yes to organ donation, A stranger I will never know, or met.
Every time I hear my heart beat, I think of them. Today, I will think of the family they left behind. I will think of the nurses that helped me. The doctors that cared for me. The countless hour’s family and friends spent worrying about things. All the un-sung hero’s that made my life saving transplant possible.
If my life were a movie, I'd be the producer, and all these people would be in the scroll who made the production (my life) truly possible.
Every year, this day rolls around and I am always asking myself “How do you thank someone for a gift of this magnitude?” Well, it has finally dawned on me. Me living, breathing, and enjoying life is the best Thank you I will ever give them. I’ve never met the family or wrote a letter. But, I hope and pray that if they are ever curious, that somehow they know I’m alive and doing what it is God had planned for me!
Today, I close my eyes and place my hand on my chest and mumble “Thank You, for another day, another breath, another chance.”
15 years ago I can remember placing my hand on my chest and telling the ICU nurse, “I can feel my heart beat, it’s beating so strong, I can feel it in my neck, I never felt this before!”
It is no secret that the past 15 years has been VERY up and down. Life has never been easy for me. I have fought hard through many obstacles. It’s also been filled with many blessings. I can say I’ve been blessed with lots of terrific gifts in life.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if my day was good or bad, if the past year was tough or not. Because of organ donation, I have been giving 15 years of Chance and Opportunity. 15 years ago, it seemed impossible.
Today, A Hero made the impossible, POSSIBLE!