Transplant Alliance Foundation
– Mary Jo Lovely Memorial Fund
During our personal transplant journey, we met numerous others that were on their own transplant journey. The common discussions were always about being listed, the call when a donor was found, the amount of medication and how life is progressing. Sadly, too many people have another story; The financial toll the surgery and post care are taking. It is always the same complaint, the co-pay and out of pocket expenses including living expenses.
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May 16, 2021
May 17, 1998 Mary found out the man she was in love with, the father of her children, her soulmate died of a heart attack. For the next 2 years she roamed through life numb and unable to tell anyone how bad she hurt. She had trouble communicating with her children, she had trouble concentrating, she was just going through the life aimlessly. The day her husband died she unknowingly made a decision that ultimately changed her life forever. Right after talking to the police about his death she received a phone call from The Gift of Life, the Philadelphia based organ donation procurement nonprofit. They asked her a simple question would you like to donate his organs and tissue. Our story of Love, Life and Organ Donation began in 2000. By 2002 we were madly in love, we were inseparable. That year she caught some kind of lung virus. The pulmonologist worked his magic and all seemed ok. By 2004 the magic was wearing off, she had a constant cough and seemingly got sick often. She now needed to be on oxygen to help her breathe. During one of her office visits he told us, “I think you should go to Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to find out about getting a lung transplant”. By 2005 she finally was able to quit smoking, now needing more oxygen than she ever needed, COPD had taken over my love. Since she was smoke free for six months, the hospital could finally begin testing to see if she was a good candidate for a lung transplant. On July 1, 2007, we got the call. A young man who we never met had lost his life. His parents made the courageous decision to say yes to organ donation. The love of my life had now moved from donor family to organ recipient. The next two years were beautiful. She no longer needed oxygen, she could move and breathe on her own. During this time is when we met lots of other people with their own transplant stories. The story that kept haunting us was the people that had to give up their house, their jobs and sometimes go bankrupt to pay for the medical and transplant related expenses. We wanted to help these people we wanted to give back and honor her donor. We started volunteering for The Gift of Life, we started sharing our story of strength and passion for life. She was living proof organ donation works. In 2009 her life and transplanted lung took a bad turn. Swine Flu was ramped, she caught pneumonia from that flu. When she finally got out of the hospital she said, we have not been doing enough. We need to do more; we need to create our own charity. For the next several years she fought to breathe and to stay alive. Finally, in 2015 she received her third chance at life. This time she received a right lung transplant from young woman who said yes to organ donation. She was not even out of the hospital as she was telling me “You better create this charity, I am ready”. And so, Transplant Alliance Foundation went from her dream to a reality. Since that day we have helped a number of people get through their transplant struggles. We have been donating to two specific fellow charities. The Gift of Life Family House to give a place for families to live while their loved one was in the hospital. Help Hope Live, a charity very much like ours that helps people pay medical bills. On February 11, 2021 I wrote this as a tribute to the woman I love. The woman who had the courage to donate her husband’s organs, the woman who had the courage to look at death in the face an say no not today. Unfortunately about two weeks prior, my wife went from being angry about being stuck in the house to somehow catching Covid-19. She beat that virus but she was not able to beat what the virus did to her lungs. Her fighting to breathe and stay alive is over. I watched the woman I love take her last breath. I feel like the luckiest man in the world. I met the woman of my dreams, who gave me family, who taught me about Love, Life and Organ Donation. I just hope I can live up to her expectations and lead our charity to its net phase. I hope and pray for the strength to keep her (our) family together. I honor you and all you fought for. I love you Mary Jo. I will see you again. If you are not an organ donor – please consider. You could make a difference; you could be donating to the person who cures Cancer or the like. As you go through life remember, Life is short, Love is wonderful and you need to celebrate life every day – A well learned lesson from my wife, Mary Jo Lovely, a great mother, a great partner and founder and an president of Transplant Alliance Foundation.