I was reading the blogs of fellow transplanted friends. One of my friend had a lung transplant and the other had both lungs transplanted. Reading them brings back many memories..
I remember throwing up blood and the doctor not letting me drive to the hospital. My heart was racing and my blood pressure was very low. We were talking about how I had driven to his office and how he would not let me leave on my own. I called a friend to come and take me to the hospital. The doctor was about to call an ambulance to come get me when my friend walked in to take me. I told him he saved my life and for the first time he told me it was luck. He thought I was going to die.
I remembered talking to my donor family on TV. Back then it was news when one met the donor family. They wrote the hospital where the organs were harvested and they sent the letter to the hospital that did the transplant. Then I wrote to them, sending the letter to my hospital and they send it to the other hospital who then sent it to the family. We were not allow to give out our name or address. They had wanted to meet and I said okay. So the hospital got together, picked a date, called the TV stations and I drove the 72 miles to the hospital in Austin to meet them. First we had to be together in front of the cameras. I tried to lead the discussion to talk about the donor family. I remember tell them ( heck, I got the video of it) that they were the heros. I could not help getting sick, I had no choice. They had a choice and choose to give life.
After the camera left and we were allowed to just talk among ourself the mom told me how hard it was when they asked her about being a donor. The hardest part was being asked, organ by organ and having to sign for each one. Would you donate the kidneys, yes, sign here, will you donate the heart? Yes, sign here. Would you donate the liver? yes, sign here. When it came to the eyes she said no, told me she just could not give the eyes that she had looked into.
I told her that of all the people I knew on the transplant list, not one of us wanted anyone to die so we could get an organ. I never prayed that I would receive one because I knew someone would have died. I tried not to be afraid and I don't believe I was. On the day I got the call, I had gone to where I use to work to say good bye to a few special friends. I knew my time was running out, I had all the signs that I had been told about. While there, my pager went off and I called in. I remember the words I heard, "get your yellow fanny up here, we believe we have a donor." I told the girl I was talking with at the time to spread the word and I started home. I could not go without my wife. That was almost 13 years ago. The date was Feb 14, 1997. My donor died Valentine Days, Feb.14, 1997. He left a wife and 2 kids, one boy, age 18, one girl age 21. His wife was in her 40s. They had been high schools sweethearts.
Today, Christmas season, I think of the gifts. The Son from our Father in Heaven and my liver, from a person I never knew. I recall the TV reporter that asked the wife, "how do you feel sitting next to the man who has your husband's liver?". She answered, "it is not my husbands liver, it is Lee's, to live with as he wants to." A great answer.
To my transplant friends, give thanks to people who shard there love ones with us. Every now and then, think about them and say a prayer for them. Without them, where would we be?