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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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How My Life Was Saved By an Organ Donor - My Five Organ Transplant

Please note: This story was originally published on May 27th, 2015. 


Written By: Carissa Haston, Transplant Recipient

It was about midnight on March 12, 2006 when my life changed forever: I was at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center awaiting a life saving transplant. Earlier that day I had been admitted with fluctuating blood pressure and I was a scrawny 62 pounds. I had days, if not just hours, left to live. 

Due to gastroparesis and chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction, two gastrointestinal conditions which lead to paralysis of the GI tract, I had not eaten in 12 years. I relied on nutrition through IV lines (something known as TPN), but with so many near-fatal blood infections from the central lines, I had lost most of my veins and they were losing the ability to feed me anymore. As a complication of TPN, my liver was failing. 

For 13 months I had waited for a transplant of my stomach, small bowel, pancreas, liver, and duodenum. 

Photo: Carissa's Outlive Yourself Pledge is to "advocate for cures for others!" How will you #outliveyourself?

Waiting and Hoping

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Heart Transplant Recipient Is Given A Second Chance at Life

Written by Kristy Thackeray, Heart Transplant Recipient. 

(Dawn's mom feeling her daughters' heart beat for the first time in 18 years, picture credit: Kristy Thackeray)

The year is 1996 and newspaper headlines are swirling around my home Province of Alberta in Canada centered around one subject. Me.

It all started when I was diagnosed with an extremely rare heart disease at age 14 and my mom and dad started a fight to save my life. They were racing to double my chances of getting a heart transplant in time and were battling to have my name added to a transplant waiting list in the United States.

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A Friend's Sacrifice Gives New Life To Kidney Recipient

Written by Shannon Hamilton, Kidney Transplant Recipient. 

(From rightt: Tony Bridwell (Kidney donor), Shannon Hamilton (Kidney recipient))

I know it is very cliché, but you never really think it will happen to you.  Whatever “it” is, it will not happen to you.  The “it’ I am talking about is needing a kidney transplant.  The weird thing is that back in 2005 my nephrologist told me that I would eventually need to start dialysis but it never really sunk in what this meant. 

Later that summer I had a stunt put in before I went back to law school, just in case I had to start dialysis immediately. But by the grace of God, by eating better and exercising more, I was able to avoid dialysis for over five years. In 2010, the doctor called my wife and I into the office and told us that the time had come and I would have to begin dialysis within the next few weeks.  No matter how good my diet was or how much I worked out, my kidneys had been damaged to the point of no return and dialysis was the only way I would survive.

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Given A Journey To Inspire

Written by Terri Willis, Liver Transplant Recipient.

I was born and diagnosed at the age of two with Tyrosinemia, a very rare metabolic disease. This is where the liver doesn't have the proper enzymes it needs to break down protein. I was diagnosed at Scottish Rite Children's Hospital but the doctor didn't know how to treat me so I was sent to Egleston Children's Hospital. I was the second person in the United States to be diagnosed with this disease. I had to be on a special diet and could not eat anything with protein and tyrosine (one of the amino acids that the body uses to break down proteins) in it. I had to drink a formula and was on several other medications. I was in-and-out of the hospital a lot because of several complications. My blood pressure would go sky high or I would get severe nose bleeds that could not be stopped on their own.

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A Mother's Sacrifice Saves Daughter's Life

Written by Hilary Weidner, Liver Donor.

When Bea was a little baby she had Jaundice. Then her 2 month appointment with the pediatrician rolled around, I came prepared with a list of questions. One of the questions was to ask about the whites of her eyes and how they looked a little yellow.

Since Bea was my first child, I wasn't sure if this was normal for babies with Jaundice. My gut urged me to bring it up to the doctor. Once we did, she agreed that it was something to look into further and she sent us to have Bea get blood test. That night, she called with the results and said to go immediately to Cincinnati Children's Hospital, and that they were expecting us.

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Living Life To The Fullest

Written by Rhonda Powers, Kidney Transplant Recipient

I received my gift of life 12 years ago thanks to my living donor and my sister, Diana.

I should probably start with my journey to receiving a transplant. I was born with a birth defect and one of my kidneys was literally falling apart and barely functioning. I was a very sick kid; in and out of the hospital until at the age of nine. That was when one of my doctors decided I needed the kidney removed. From what I was told, the surgery I needed was so new in the state of Oklahoma that I had to travel to a hospital in Lawton and they filmed my surgery to teach medical students. It was in February of 1970.

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My Journey to the Rose Parade: An Experience of a Lifetime

Written by Lisa Barker, Liver Transplant Recipient      

When I woke up on Friday, February 7, 2014 I never imagined the plans God had in store for my future after my life saving liver transplant. I found myself resonating with this quote since my transplant. “If you saw the size of the blessing coming, you would understand the magnitude of the battle you are fighting.”

        When my battle first started, I do not think I can honestly say I understood the way God was working in my life. I knew he had a plan but it was a lot to comprehend. I had unexpected months of rehab and was emotionally struggling with all that comes with being a new transplant recipient.

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Living a Joyous Journey

Written by Nicole Brewer, Double-lung Transplant Recipient

I received a second chance at life on April 17, 2008, when I received a new pair of lungs. My story is a little ironic;  I was a collegiate soccer player who loved to continuously run up and down the soccer field, but life had a different plan for me, and it continues to be a journey of joyous unknowns. 

Like many transplant recipients, my husband and I have been on quite a journey! I’ll give a short synopsis of my disease and what led to having a double lung transplant and this second chance at life. But the thing is, this journey is not over. There are many unknowns. But there is an abundance of life and love.

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A Christmas Miracle: Receiving "The Call"

Written by Nicole Romine, Liver Transplant Recipient

I had been a healthy person for my entire 26 years of life. A few months after Aaron, my first child, was born in 2014, I began to notice I wasn’t quite myself. My stomach was constantly upset and I couldn’t get through a day without feeling queasy. My eyes and skin turned yellow. I was worried, but I had no idea then that I was beginning a journey that would completely change my life. Over the course of a few weeks, I went to doctors and specialists and had so many tests run that I lost count. Day by day my health continued to decline, and just ten days before Christmas I was admitted into the ER.

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