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Touched by Organ Donation: Outlasting the Final Breath

My name is Jill Stephenson. I am a donor sister and mother. In July of 1982, my eleven-year old brother, J.T. was struck by a car and killed instantly. Two cars behind the one that hit him was a highway patrolman who administered CPR and saved him, temporarily.

Unfortunately, he was declared brain dead and removed from life support ten days later. Those ten days on life support helped prepare him to give the gift of life to strangers. When the doctors asked my family to consider donation we didn’t hesitate. We knew that if J.T. was able to make that decision for himself, he would have.

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Losing a Child + Marriage = One Unpredictable Journey

 

 

If you read the title of this, you will see that I used the word ‘unpredictable’. Yep, that’s right.  When a married couple is suddenly faced with the loss of a child, the whole world around them becomes unpredictable. I know this because I’ve walked it.  

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13-month-old "Smilin Rylen" Continues to Give Life After Passing

Written by Kristen Cowan, mother of Rylen Cowan 

On June 5, 2017 our sweet Rylen who was only 13 months old, earned his angel wings after a battle with Bacterial Meningitis. We don’t know why God chose to have Rylen return to Heaven so soon, but what we have learned is that God has this amazing PLAN that is still unfolding to this very day! You see, though his life was short, he is our BIGGEST HERO. We feel blessed to know that he made a HUGE impact on this Earth.

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Mother Of Heart Transplant Recipient Shares Story of Hope

Our son was born in August 1998 in Anchorage, Alaska. I had a normal pregnancy with all the prenatal appointments, vitamins, and check-ups. I may have packed on a few too many pounds, but I was healthy and thrilled to be having a baby boy.

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A Selfless Gift Given: A Priceless Gift Received

Written by Paul Daniels, Cornea Transplant Recipient, Husband, and Father

It was late June, 2010, when the poison ivy rash spread from my torso and arms to my forehead and left cheek. By the time I realized that this rash was different, the shingles had already begun attack my optic nerve and left eye socket. A journey that brought deep clarity and understanding of an all too familiar phrase, “You don’t know how much something means to you until it is gone” had begun.

Those That Keep On Giving

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Learning to Breathe: Cherishing New Life After a Lung Transplant

"Breathe, Selwa! Breathe."

I gasp for air as I tell myself again.

"Breathe!"

But my breath does not come easy. I fight the tears that begin to well up in my eyes as I pretend not to struggle in front of my children. We had just walked from the parking lot into the grocery store, a long walk when you have 23% lung function.

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How Losing My Brother Taught Me To Outlive Myself

 

Two words that, when separate, seem innocuous; however, when they are put together, they can pack quite a punch.  As Yoda, the wise mentor from Star Wars, would probably tell the Jedi council if those words came up in a meeting, “Ponder upon these, I must.”

Too often, I feel, many of us, myself included, take many things in life for granted.  How many times do we wake up and just go about the morning routine, not even thinking about how each day, each minute, each second, is a GIFT, not a given right?

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A Selfless Gift Grants New Life To Heart Transplant Recipient

Written by: Leslie Lentz

Our family’s lives were completely changed in April 2007 when my husband, at just thirty-one years old, was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure.  My husband was a former collegiate athlete and was in incredible shape. We would have never imagined that he would be diagnosed with heart failure and at the time, we did not know anything about heart disease.

I was five months pregnant with our second child and our oldest child was only five when he was diagnosed. The doctor came out, sat me down, and said to start preparing myself that he may not make it out of surgery. You can imagine how a pregnant woman with a five-year-old child might take this news, it was not a pretty sight.  Luckily, my husband made it out of surgery and we started a new and unknown phase in our lives.Our family’s lives were completely changed in April 2007 when my husband, at just thirty-one years old, was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure.  My husband was a former collegiate athlete and was in incredible shape. We would have never imagined that he would be diagnosed with heart failure and at the time, we did not know anything about heart disease.

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Organ Donation Is The Answer

Written by Mary Allis Gracheck, a living kidney donor

My dad is an amazing man. He has supported and provided for his family, instilled within me a love of sports (even though I do not have an athletic bone in my body), and is a living example of how far hard work and determination will take you in life.

When my father was diagnosed with FSGS, a form of kidney disease, our family was thrown into a chaotic and confusing situation. A variety of questions continued to persist: What caused this? What are the effects? What do we do now? This journey has been challenging, but ultimately beautiful.

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Waiting With Hope: My Liver Transplant Story

Written by: Rhonda Fenske, Liver Transplant Recipient

I have a friend and his name is Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and Savior, and He is with me everywhere I go. He knows my every thought, need, and concern; moreover, He is my guiding light that leads my life. Sometimes, I have to wait for his answers, and sometimes, I am unsure of what His answers will be. However, He always knows what’s best for my life.

On May 1, 1971, I was diagnosed with a rare cholestatic liver disease called Alagille Syndrome. At that time, there were only thirteen cases in the world. Still today, Alagille Syndrome is considered to be very rare. With this disease, I had severe itching, jaundice, prominent facial characteristics, stunted growth and it affected my entire body. All the specialists at Rainbow Baby’s and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland Ohio addressed the medical issues as they occurred. However, my parents were told that I would likely not live to see up to or around 3 years of age. While the Lord knew His plans for my life, I had to wait for His answer. Living with Alagille Syndrome was never easy. I spent many months in and out of the Rainbow Babies And Children’s Hospital having to go through many surgeries. My parents spent many days and nights helping me deal with severe itching and scratching all over my body and to deal with the fatigue resulting from this disease. Taking short naps in grade school, was not an uncommon event for me and as I got older, my liver disease progressed. My eyes became more yellow, and my skin had a golden appearance as if I had a tan with very dry skin.

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