During Donate Life Month in April, we asked you to enter our Touched by Transplant “New Life” Contest by telling us how transplantation has impacted your life. We shared stories from our 4 winners during May and June, but we can’t resist the chance to share a piece of ALL of the incredible “new life” testimonies. Here they are.
“I had a living liver donor. Her name is Madalyn and she is my hero.
As I write this, I am nearly a year post-transplant. I lost the girl I was in May 2014 when the letters PSC were first uttered. But I gained more than I ever imagined. I have a greater appreciation for life.
I am utterly in love with feeling like a human being. I love waking up each morning and remembering that my liver works. I can take long walks with my husband. I can climb mountains. I have a future. And it is all due to the Lord, my donor, and my surgeons. I am forever indebted.”
–Amanda Washek, South-Atlantic Liver Transplant Fund
Transplanted August 11, 2015
“I am so grateful for my donor on my 6-month lung-iversary! These past months have been an amazing experience and I can’t wait to see where my new lungs take me. Every day my donor will be on my mind and in my prayers. I am so gracious for this amazing gift I have received. My donor is what lifts me.”
–Annie McMahon, New York Lung Transplant Fund
Transplanted December 2016
“Brian received his lifesaving heart and kidney transplant in the early hours of April 13. Words cannot express our gratitude towards the donor and their family.
An LA Times reporter was kind enough to connect us to former Major League Baseball player and coach Rod Carew, who underwent the same surgery in December 2016. Brian received a special phone call from Rod.
We are thankful to see Brian smile again. We want to promote the importance of organ donation not only in April during Donate Life Month, but year ‘round. Keep the pinwheels spinning!”
-Wife of Brian McCormick, Great Lakes Heart/Kidney Transplant Fund
Transplanted April 13, 2017
“At 24 years old, receiving the gift of life from my father has allowed me to see what else life has in store for me. Every day I wake up thankful for this opportunity my dad has given me.
Since the transplant, I have grown closer to people that mean the most to me and made new friends. I have fallen madly in love with the girl of my dreams, Meghan, and we’re getting married in September and are in the process of buying our first home.
My new (61-year-old) kidney has allowed me to experience so many beautiful things in life! There is no greater joy in the world to me than to be surrounded by the amazing people I have in my life.”
–Christopher Anthony Zerfass, Mid-Atlantic Kidney Transplant Fund
Transplanted September 10, 2014
“I received a double lung transplant in 2012 and I’ve been in chronic rejection since 2015. Despite this diagnosis, I’ve actually been doing pretty well. I’m still able to do some things and enjoy myself.
My two dogs and my husband, Mike, are the loves of my life. I’m able to take our dogs on walks, something I couldn’t do before transplant. My husband does so much to lift my spirits. My health could be better, but life is good. And I take it as it comes.”
–Deborah Hopper, Northeast Lung Transplant Fund
Transplanted May 3, 2012
“Though it was a long and very difficult road, I know God has blessed me in so many ways. A friend did the most selfless thing one can do for another: she was willing to lay down her life as she donated one of her kidneys to me.
My health has been remarkably good since the surgery. It feels nothing short of a miracle to wake up and sense your body becoming stronger, your system cleaned of toxins and waste, and dialysis no longer needed.”
–James Michael McLester, South-Central Kidney Transplant Fund
Transplanted December 9, 2015
“I was at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas this week for MRI labs. It hit home when two ladies in the lab who were waiting for bloodwork talked about one giving the other her kidney. As I continue to wait for a liver transplant, it’s awesome just to be part of those kinds of conversations. We are blessed.”
–Janet Martin Kafer, South-Central Liver Transplant Fund
“I don’t know how to send pictures or videos to you, but I do know how much I appreciate living. In the past seven years, I have had a second chance at life. I now have two beautiful grandchildren. I thank God and my donor every minute of the day for my life. I would like to thank Help Hope Live for such wonderful service. God bless us all.”
–Josh Bulvin, Mid-Atlantic Heart Transplant Fund
Transplanted March 10, 2010
“Joe was the youngest of five children. His parents carried genes that would end up fighting each other and destroying the lungs of three of the four boys in his family. Joe’s two older brothers died of pulmonary fibrosis before they could be transplanted.
Joe was placed on the transplant list. On the evening of March 24, 2015, we got a call in the middle of the night. Joe was sleeping so soundly that I hated to wake him. Joe was dreaming that a woman said to him that she was leaving this world and that she was giving him her lung.
I had so many emotions, excited, nervous, and sad thinking someone lost a loved one for this to happen. And then in the next moment so very, very appreciative that they provided us a chance of having more time and more life together.
Joe came home in record time. We are still going strong and are so appreciative of the person who gave us BOTH the gift of life.”
-Wife of Joseph Dinas, Southeast Lung Transplant Fund
Transplanted March 24, 2015
“My new life is also a new start. I am able to move closer to my transplant center for check-ups and future care.”
–Joseph Ozoniak, South-Atlantic Heart Transplant Fund
Transplanted May 28, 2011
“For the first time in ten years, we finally took a trip we had been planning. We took a trip to Denver to visit family and celebrated our freedom in life. God is our co-pilot.”
–Kevin Jamieson, Southeast Liver Transplant Fund
Transplanted October 23, 2015
“God and all kinds of people have given me my life back little by little. Because I’m back on track in my life, I can enjoy it every second, which is the case only for people who pass through this kind of experience. We learn how precious life is. I’m giving back to my community, working in volunteer medicine, helping people in need and giving them self-esteem and the hope that they can get back to a normal life. We need to share this love with the world!”
–Maylin Palma, Great Lakes Kidney Transplant Fund
Transplanted July 21, 2015
“My prayers were answered in July when I received a bi-lateral lung transplant. My new life had begun. I could talk and laugh with my family again without coughing. As my recovery progressed, I began to imagine once again the activities I enjoyed before idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
My recovery was so successful that in February I was able to go for a 40-minute snowshoe trek with my wife, Kim, and our daughter, Laura, a favorite winter activity that I haven’t been able to do for the last six years. I was able to blow out my birthday candles at my 60th birthday.”
–Pat Donovan, Northeast Lung Transplant Fund
Transplanted July 31, 2016
“I had my heart and bilateral lung transplant in November 2015. A transplant recipient cannot take anything for granted with regard to health. Post-transplant, I spent six months in the hospital and lost seven toes due to poor blood flow to my feet. I had a lung infection and was put on three different types of antibiotics. After being on them for so long, I have hearing loss.
That being said, I completely owe my life to the team in the hospital and my family and friends who took care of me. It’s been three years since I left my job due to pre-transplant illness. I am finally now looking forward to going back to work in just a few months.”
–Sreelakshmi Yalamanchali, Mid-Atlantic Heart/Lung Transplant Fund
Transplanted November 4, 2015
“It means bringing new life into a body oxygen depleted
Returning to activities without being tethered and seated
New opportunities, new beginnings have started
The faces of loves ones not broken hearted
An ending rescripted
A future unrestricted
The ability to breathe without difficulty and strife
Lungs reconstructed by a surgeon’s knife
My joy is great, my heart is full
Thankful to God, I am eternally grateful.”
–Susan Dow Smiley, Southeast Lung Transplant Fund
Transplanted February 18, 2017
“Tom had a five-organ transplant at Jackson Memorial Hospital in December. He is doing good: all of the organs are working, thanks to the donor. We waited for two years. We are hoping to go home soon. It has been an adventure.”
-Wife of Tom Cumming, Southwest Liver Transplant Fund
Transplanted December 2016
“My husband, Victor, received his kidney on December 8, 2016. This was the greatest gift that our family could ever receive. My kids love seeing their daddy happy and healthy. We are enjoying every minute with him and making lots of memories together.”
-Wife of Victor Melendez, New York Kidney Transplant Fund
Transplanted December 8, 2016
If you know someone who needs help covering transplant-related out-of-pocket medical costs, start a fundraising campaign in his or her honor with help from our nonprofit at www.helphopelive.org.