|I’ve always felt compelled to support organ and blood donation. I couldn’t tell you exactly why, but it started at my first blood drive in high school. To know that I could quite literally save lives by donating a pint of blood was an absolutely amazing feeling for me. I started donating blood every 8 weeks, religiously, after that. Feeling like I could and should do more, I also joined Be The Match in hopes of matching with someone in need of a bone marrow transplant. I’ve been active on that list for almost ten years now and although that call hasn’t come, one much closer to home did.
We learned that my dad was dying of liver failure in February 2016. He waited in line on the liver transplant list for five years, but despite his health deteriorating before our eyes, never made it to the top. In 2021, I decided my family and I weren’t going to wait any longer. I had no idea what living organ donation meant for myself or my body, but I knew that I was healthy and my dad wasn’t. I talked to my family, got them on board, and started researching. We settled on Cleveland Clinic, who boasted one of the top living liver donor programs in the world, and scheduled dates to be seen by their transplant team for evaluation. I changed my lifestyle completely and became the healthiest person I had ever been – I didn’t want anything to stop me from giving my dad my liver. We both endured several weeks of intense testing in Cleveland to make sure we were suitable for surgery. Fast forward about seven months and I received the call that I was a perfect match to be my dads living liver donor and had been approved to donate my entire right lobe, 61% of my liver, to him! Receiving that call was the most exciting moment of my life.
On Feb 7, 2022, we entered the OR and my dad woke up half a day later with his new, working liver. I’ll never forget the rush of emotion I felt when the surgeons told me the procedure had been a success and my dad was alive, well, and talking. It has been five weeks since
surgery and I can officially say that the day my hero -my dad- received his long awaited liver, was officially the best day of my life.
I will advocate for organ donation until the day that I die, when my remaining organs and tissue are used to save several more lives. I will forever encourage everyone around me to join the donor registry because my family and I have seen firsthand how miraculous a second chance at life truly is.