| Ever since I was young, I’ve been taught that organ donation is a very selfless act that can save many lives. At the time, I didn’t personally know anyone that had an organ donation, and I was too young to join the organ donor registry, but I knew organ donation was such a selfless and good thing. These are ideals that I’ve carried with me for a long time, but my connection and interest in organ donation grew in January 2017, when my Dad was diagnosed with End Term Liver and Kidney Failure with a dual organ transplant being his only chance at recovery.
I watched my Dad become extremely ill each day, as his skin became yellow from jaundice and as Dialysis made him lose 130 pounds over a six month period. He became so ill that my once strong, hardworking, and capable Dad couldn’t stand up from a chair without two or more people helping him to stand and walk. All of this is not to mention that the medicine cabinet in my home began to look like a pharmacy due to the number of prescriptions my Dad had to take in order to help him live long enough to have a chance at receiving a lifesaving transplant. At one point, his doctors grieved with my family as they told us that he likely would die waiting for his lifesaving transplant. Honestly, I began preparing to lose my Dad when I was only 16 years old and I began to accept and realize that there would be many significant milestones in my life that he wouldn’t experience with me.
Then, at 5am on July 26, 2017, we got the call that would forever change our lives-my Dad’s transplant surgeon called and asked him to come in and be tested as a potential match for a liver and kidney transplant. After an entire day of testing, my Dad received his new Liver on July 26th, 2017 at 11:30pm and his new Kidney on July 27th, 2017 at 5:45pm. I’m so fortunate to say that both surgeries went even better than expected, and both were considered extreme successes.
My family and my Dad’s healthcare team considered it an even bigger blessing that he did not have a single rejection episode following surgery, and I’m blessed to say that he still has not had a single episode of rejection almost two and a half years out from surgery. A month of inpatient treatment and rehabilitation, he came home to watch me begin my senior year of high school, and to ultimately begin his new life- a new life, thanks to the unbelievably selfless gift of life from his organ donor.
It wasn’t until after my Dad received his transplant that I realized how many people within my community knew next to nothing about organ transplants and how many misconceptions about transplants existed. In fact, it was common for me to go to during my senior year and be asked questions such as “Can your Dad breathe by himself or does he need a ventilator?” (no, he can breathe on his own) and “Can your Dad go shopping and out to eat or does he have to stay home all the time?” (no, he can and does go wherever he wants whenever he wants) multiple times per day. While I accepted and answered these questions to the best of my ability, I also tried to highlight the gift of life that organ donation provides to so many patients.
Trying to clarify this misinformation is one of the main reasons why I was excited to become a Donate Life Ambassador. I can’t wait to use my skills and experience to help teach the public about the importance of organ donation.
I want to strongly encourage anyone and everyone that is considering organ and/or tissue donation to research and join the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry. By joining the Registry, you are giving patients one of the best and most selfless gifts-the gifts of health and life. If a single person hadn’t made the decision to join the Registry, my Dad would not be alive right now. Every night, we pray for his donor and their family and give thanks for his gift of life. By joining the Registry, you’re offering the gift of life-what better gift could you possibly give?