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True Organ Donor Stories

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by Kathleen Dundee - Brother gives gift of life to sister - kidney donation
  - submitted January 4, 2011

kidney transplant
I was in complete kidney failure when diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2008. Multiple Myeloma is cancer of the plasma and is not curable. My only chance for a kidney transplant was to take part in an experimental study at Massachusetts General Hospital. Both my brother and I live in Ohio. I needed to find a perfect match donor. All six of my siblings were tested but only Jimmy was a perfect match. We both had to travel to Boston. Jimmy went through extensive testing to be sure he could donate. On Feb. 9th, 2010 Jimmy donated a kidney and bone marrow.

I am currently cancer free with a functioning kidney! There have been many set backs but I am encouraged every day with the progress I am making. My brother is truly a man of courage and a loving heart. He has given me the gift of a normal life. I can never repay him. I can only love him more with each new day. Additional_Information:

Jimmy and I would like to use our story to encourage people to be tested for organ donation. We feel by telling both sides of the donation story we may be able to reach at least one person who would be willing to be tested.

by Amy Hutson - 8 yr old Katie's organ donation saves others
  - submitted November 5, 2010

gift of life
On march 18, 2008 our 8 year old daughter died after being hit by a mini van. As we sat in the hospital taking it all in something told me to ask about organ donation. Once we got to talking with the people from the donor center it was only right to follow thru and donate. We lost our daughter, but she was able to help 2 little boys and 2 grown men. I never really thought about or really knew what was involved with organ donation until katies accident.

I want everyone to know and understand what it really means to be an organ donor. You can save someones life.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to talk about organ donation, or what I've been through - budafly99@yahoo.com

by Gregory Rogan - The Secret to Living Is Giving - brother donates kidney to brother
  - submitted October 12, 2010

In no way do I want anyone to take anything negative away from my post here. My post is meant to inspire, not detract from the incredible experience of becoming a donor. Having said that... My name is Greg and I am an alcoholic! I realized I am an alcoholic when I was 27 (now I am 42) and having gone through many painful situations on this front. I am in recovery for 15 years now and am very happy. My story takes a different turn when 6 years ago I learned of an older brother to a very close friend of mine going into renal failure (kidney) after fighting the aspects of a recurring disease for years. I dug down deep to find what I knew would be a great experience of donating my own kidney to save this mans life. Not only do I credit the experience of donating my kidney as one of the greatest things that happened to me, but I look at it as one of two experiences that changed my life...my sobriety and kidney donation...one gave life back to another person, the other gave life back to myself.

Donating an organ is head and shoulders above any mountain that could be climbed to set ones sights on it's beautiful vistas. It was incredible for me to have gone through this event in my life. However, my story again changes by the fact that just 3 years after my donation, I started to experience pain and discomfort unrelated to anything that happened with my organ donation....the fact is I have been diagnosed with Advanced Stage IV colon cancer and have been fighting for the last 2 1/2 years and am trying to overcome this deadly disease. Regardless of why I am going through this after my sacrifice in being a living organ donor...I will always go down as saying giving life back to another individual is something so great, so powerful, and so beautiful that I know it will always add to my life....not take away.

God bless all who donate and receive an organ.

by Diane - Love can make you walk thru fire without blinking - daughter in law donates kidney to father in law
  - submitted October 3, 2010

Wednesday October 6th will be another new start for Domingo (my father in law). His kidneys first failed 17 years ago and he began dialysis for more than 2 years. Now 14 years later the kidney he received has shut down and no longer functions. When test results confirmed this information earlier this year, I began my mission. I have decided to donate a kidney to him. After extensive testing and plenty of rejection from him, we are finally scheduled for the kidney donor transplant.

I've never wanted anything more in my entire life. Never have I hesitated and I truly believe this is my calling in life. The love I have for him cannot be measured and I would do anything to have him here longer.

by Jan - Mother is proud of 18 yr old "Angel" daughter's organ donation decision
  - submitted October 2, 2010

organ donation
In July 2010 I lost my precious angel of 18yrs old. She was the light in my life and one of the reasons I live, the other is my son. On her 18th birthday in May 2010 she went to get her new drivers license. A few weeks later she came running thru the house saying "I got my card". Of course I assumed she meant her new lisence. She held a card that was not her lisence and I said "what is it" she smiled and replied "my organ donor card from the D.E.A.R. website".

I couldn't believe she had gone on the website (on the day of her birthday) and registered. She said she wanted to surprise me since I had explained my donor card to her when she was 11 and told her she had to wait until she was 18 to decide if she wanted one of her own. I cannot tell you how proud I was on that day. When she left us, her organs went on to save four lives of four strangers. I can't tell you how much more proud I am now. My daughter was amazing, beautiful inside and out.

The lady who has her heart should be doing cartwheels in the front yard by this time next year, after all she has an 18 year old heart. For those who have my daughters organs, please take care of them, it was a priceless sacrifice that only a donor can give, and for every organ, I too, as a mother, had to give.

by Melanie Knight - sister donates kidney to sister on November 20, 2009
  - submitted Sept 25, 2010

August 21st 2009 I was 17 years old and terribly ill. I was rushed too Vassar Brothers Hospital where i was admitted. On that day i remeber being hooked up too many machines too moniter my blood pressure, my heart rate my oxygen and things of that nature. Blood was constantly being draw so eventually I became immune too the feeling of needles poking my arm. Hours and numerous test results, later I was diaganosed with End Stage Renal Failure. I heard every word the docter said but I was unable too comprehende. I looked around the room too see my mother along with the rest of my family and friends shedding tears, at this point I just wanted too go home. It would take months for that too even be a possibilty. I was placed on dyalisis (peritoneal) and I spent 3 months of restless nights in Vassar Brothers Hospital. When i was able too return home trips too the emergency room was something that I did at least 3 times a week. These trips were caused by complication with my cathater, vomitting constantly and not being able too keep any food down, vomitting up blood etc.

We went through the process of finding a donor. Luckily for me both my older sister and brother met the criterea. My sister decieded that she would be my donor, and I thank God for her. My transplant hospital is Columbia Prebyterian. My transplant too place on November 20th 2009. Five days after my birthday. I get another chance at living life what else could I ask for. After my transplant took place i woke up in the recovery room shortly after I was rushed back in too o.r - I had a blood clot. It took 3 long weeks for my kidney too start fully functioning on its own. After i was released from the hospital i still made many trips back. I thought after the surgury I would be as good as new but it takes time, till this day my body isnt back too what it use too be but I am in good health so i have absolutly nothing too complain about. While i was hospitlized my height was 5'7 and I weighed 139 pounds. I couldnt believe it, never in my life have I been that skinny, today September 25th 2010 I am still 5'7 and currently weigh 157 pounds.

I thank God for everything He's done for me, because without Him I woudldn't be here today. So my words too you are keep the faith and believe. Organ donation is majorly important - it saved my life and I am forever greatful.

by Helen Sanders - Pray for husband - needs heart transplant
  - posted August 27, 2010

heart transplant
My husband is on a heart transplant list. If he doesn't get one by his 69th birthday in January 2011 he will be taken off the list. He is living with the help of Heartmate II heart pump which is doing all the work. It only helps temporarily.

I urge everyone to become an organ donor so that you may help someone else live. Please let your family know you are a donor. Just listing it on your driver license is not enough.

Kayleigh Lomnicky - Heart Transplant Fundraiser - Sept 12, Trumbull CT
  - posted August 27, 2010

Kayleigh Lomnicky
Kayleigh Lomnicky and she is a patient at Boston Childrens Hospital. You may download the poster for the event which is happening in Trumbull, Ct on Sept. 12, 2010.

Kayleigh Lomnicky poster (650 KB, opens in new window or tab)

Chris Klug - Transplant Recipient and Olympic Medalist - Promotes Organ Donation
  - posted August 27, 2010

Chris Klug
Eighteen months before winning third place in the giant slalom at the Olympic Games on February 15, 2002, Klug underwent a liver transplant. The professional snowboarder was the epitome health until 2000 when a rare liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis had destroyed his bile duct. Klug not only persevered physically with the bronze medal to prove it but also mentally and spiritually.

Today, through several non-profit organizations including The Chris Klug Foundation and Donor Dudes, as well as speaking tours, interviews and his book To the Edge and Back: My Story From Organ Transplant Survivor to Olympic Snowboarder, Klug has become a passionate advocate for organ donations. For almost a decade, hes been educating people of all ages on the importance of transplants and improving the quality of life for recipients, donors and their families. In a one-on-one interview on genConnect.com, Klug reflects on his journey, how donors give people second chances and ways he inspires others affected by organ donation.

Watch his interview at http://www.genconnect.com/giving-back/chris-klugs-message-organ-donors-and-second-chances-videos

Kevin Receives Kidney Transplant on June 22, 2010
  - posted July 4, 2010

kidney transplant Praise God for the success of this transplant and for comfort for the family of the donor. Kevin was diagnosed with kidney failure in Nov 2006. Although his mother and uncle were matched as donors, they were temporarily disqualified. It was Kevin's desire to promote the need for organ donors, which was why this website was developed.

We are forever grateful to the unknown "hero" who cared enough about his fellow man and country to serve in the US Marine Corps, and then later in his life, to be an organ donor.

Melissa Meyer Donates Kidney to Cousin
  - posted June, 2010

I recently donated a kidney to my cousin. When I found out he needed one I was tested. I heard all kinds of scary stories about how my life would change after I donated.I then started investigating on my own and also the hospital gave me information. It is not as scary as one would expect.

The only change I have had is in my heart. It is a tremendous feeling knowing I was blessed and able to help save his life. I now join groups to encourage people to donate,and I do not take even the little things in life for granted.

Kathryn Garcia Living Miracle Kidney Transplant Recipient
  - posted May, 2010

I was born with hypoplastic kidneys (never developed) and had my first kidney transplant at the age of 2 which was donated my my wonderful mom, and that lasted 10 years. I had my second kidney transplant at the age of 13 and that was donated by a family who had to deal with saying goodbye to their loved ones so that I could live and I thank them everyday for making such a hard decision, that kidney lasted me 11 more wonderful years. Then at the age of 27 I had my 3rd kidney transplant (and hopefully my last) and that was donated by my twin sister and this past christmas has been 4 years ago already and I am proud to say that I am doing great.

I know a lot of people out there don't believe in organ donation but until you have to walk in that person's shoes please don't judge us because we never asked to be in that situation, I truly believe God just wanted us to show people how to live strong. I thank all the many families out there who have lost a loved one and decided to part with their organs it is a big decision and I can't even imagine ever having to make it. I thank God, my family,friends for always being there for me during some of the hardest days of my life.

God Bless all those who are still on the waiting list for an organ, and God Bless those who have to say goodbye to their loved ones who past on so others could live. Thank you!!!!!!

Please continue to pray for strength and healing for Penny and her family and for the donor's family!
Praise God for His Gracious Kindness and Mercy!

  - updated July 4, 2010

Penny will be going home to Arizona soon. Please watch this video about Penny.

update on Penny Gorman Update on Penny - Heart Transplant!

Penny received a heart transplant on March 31, 2010. What an Easter blessing! So far, Penny is doing well and is making progress. Please keep the family of the donor in your prayers. Although we do not understand why God allows hardships, but we trust in His will, and give Him praise for this miracle!

Penelope (Penny) Gorman awaiting a heart transplant at UCLA - http://saveapenny.info/main.html
  - posted March 2010

Penny Gorman photo
Penelope (Penny) Gorman is a charming, delightful, and happy 2-year-old little girl. Like any other 2-year-old, she is full of life and loves to talk, sing, and play. Penny has a very outgoing personality and people are drawn to her wherever she goes. When she looks at you with her big blue eyes, your heart just melts.

On August 4, 2009 Penny's mother Jina Gorman, her grandmother Laurel Fagg, and Penny were on their way home from visiting Penny's great-grandparents in California when Penny suddenly got very sick. She was taken to the ER in Santa Barbara, where the doctors discovered that her heart was very enlarged. She was medi-vacced to the UCLA Pediatric ICU and diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

Penny Gorman photo Once at UCLA, her heart rate and the fluid in her lungs continued to increase to the point where she was placed on a respirator. The medical staff tried to help her heart through medication, but it was not effective and she was placed on the heart transplant list. The decision was made for Penny to receive a Berlin heart. This device assists her heart with pumping while she waits for a donor heart.

Penny is only the second child at UCLA to receive this device (a Berlin heart) and the device is not yet FDA approved in his country.

The device is attached to Penny through 4 tubes that are inserted through her stomach and grafted into the left and right ventricles of her heart. Although this device is mobile, it's quite heavy and is an ordeal to transport her anywhere. The Berlin heart can operate for 30 minutes on battery power alone, but it must be plugged in to an electrical outlet after that.

Penny Gorman photo This ordeal has been very difficult on Penny's entire family. Stephen Gorman, Penny's father, works for the City of Phoenix during the week and flies to LA every weekend. Jina stays at the UCLA hospital with Penny. They do have a small apartment across the street from the UCLA Medical Center, however because it is off-campus housing, the rent is quite expensive. Both sets of grandparents are also actively involved in helping to care for Penny.

Although the machine is saving her life, it does have some drawbacks. One of them is the tendency of the device to develop blood clots. The blood clots are constantly monitored to ensure that they are not breaking off and causing a potential stroke or pulmonary issue. Because of her condition and the reliance on the Berlin heart, Penny needs nearly 24/7 attention.

Most of the time Penny seems almost normal. She sings and plays with her toys and enjoys trips outside to the playroom. But, she is in a lot of pain due to the tubes in her stomach. One of them is pressing on her ribs and causing breathing difficulties. She hasn't eaten any real food since she came into the hospital and is fed through a nasal tube. This is very uncomfortable for her and it causes her to throw up several times a day and throughout the night. But, through it all, she remains her charming self. She's a favorite of the nurses and doctors and people come by to see her all the time. We're all waiting for the call that tells us a heart is available for her and that she'll be coming back to Phoenix soon!

Four Year Old Waits for Rare Heart Kidney Transplant - www.saveabrokenheart.com
  - posted January 2010

Aaron tanner photo
My story starts 4 years ago when Aaron was born he was born with a rare heart defect called hypoplastic left heart. He has had three open heart surgeries and numerouse other surgeries related to his heart condition. When Aaron was six weeks old we lost our 27 month old son Ethan to hypotropic cardiomyopathy. It was never diagnosed so it was a sudden tragedy.

My now 4 year old son, Aaron, is in heart and kidney failure he is fighting for his life. we are (Aaron and myself) had to move 500 miles away from home and live withen minutes of the transplant facility where his lifesaveing transplant will take place at UCLA Childrens Mattel hopsital. I have two other children at home and a husband. For now our family is torn apart because we have to be close to the hospital. We have been waiting 3 months on the UNOS list and he was in the hospital since June of last year. This has been very difficult for us.

His story needs to be shared! Pediatric organ donation is not as common as adult organ donation. He could be waiting for upward of a year. There are numerous websites and information all over the Web about my son Aaron Tanner. ABC did a news story and there is information on YouTube. He can be the pediatric face to promote this. That is our goal - to help promote organ donation. There is a walk across the San Francisco Bay Bridge scheduled this year that walk will be one in honer of Aaaron to promote Organ donation. I would like to offer our help any way possible. Aaron's website is www.saveabrokenheart.com

My Son - Recipient and Donor
  - posted December 2009

My son, Daniel, was born with Cystic Fibrosis and in 1985 they gave a prognosis of 5 to 8 years. Well, we were blessed in that he wasn't suffering too much in relation to other sick kids, but it still is so hard, and seems so wrong that kids get sick. Dan was an easy going guy with an almost ironic strength. At 15 we were told he needed a lung transplant. Well, he got angry, and got better - enough to be off the top of the list. He did fight and fight, so it seemed he would live to be 20, then 30, etc. Eventually, he did get to the point of not being able to attend college & work, which he'd been doing. Then they said "now he certainly needed the transplant". We asked where his doctor would choose if it was his child. We went to Chapel Hill, NC near UNC hospital. He continued able to get by, but was obviously failing.

It was a TRUE miracle when he received his new lungs! He recovered so quickly and so strongly, his prognosis went way up! About 20 months later he succumed to septic shock. He fought that too, and amazingly seemed to be recovering, but he passed away with definite instructions. He donated every organ or tissue that could be used (as an RN I know that's a LOT). We don't know who gave him that extra time to be "normal" 22, 23 year old. I feel blessed by that, even though I knew a lot of people survive much longer these days. So, the recipient was so grateful that he became the donor. I don't know how many were or will be helped (he signed off on his old lungs to go for research).

A lifetime friend asked me recently what I thought of organ donation. I said, adamantly, I am ALL for it. She said, but Dan died. But we had that time, he had that time to realize the values he always had, and could help more than be helped. God is good - and he truly believed that. Never any doubt.

Too fast, Too young
  - posted December 2009

Kevin was the picture of life itself - an active, healthy young man with no history of medical conditions. One evening, after sitting at the computer for an extended period of time, pain in his legs and swelling ankles sent him to the hospital. A biopsy was scheduled and the results confirmed a kidney disease. Though he was told he would out live the disease before ever needing dialysis, in less than a year he collapsed.

Unconscious, Kevin was rushed to the hospital. The days that followed were touch and go. On a scale of one to ten, the toxins in his body were a nine leaving him with little chance of surviving. Kevin zest for life is unmatchable. Though he was in an induce coma, it was evident he was not ready to give up. Waking up in the hospital days later, no longer able to live the life he was use to, he found himself attached to a machine trying to comprehend his new lifestyle - mechanical life support - dialysis.

Days turned into weeks and weeks into month but he rose to the challenge and forged ahead grasping every moment and every dream with the fullness of life in spite of the limitations. Together with other family members the quest to bring awareness to the need for organ donation became a compelling drive. His aunt, Teresa, is the developer of this site. I, his mother, through work organizations, combine efforts to promote donor cards and well as information on live donations.

Kevin is currently on the transplant list with hope that he will be the receiver of someone's gift of life. Along with that hope is my hope that in time I will be accepted as that giver of life. My hope remains strong in Christ.

By Cynthia Williams whose Father, Charles Cager Gilmore, received a kidney transplant
  - posted November 2009

My father received a kidney transplant in his mid-40s. Just 7 years later, sadly, the kidney failed. My dad chose not to go back on the list for another kidney because he knew the demand for organ donors and he knew that having a failed transplant, he would be placed at the top of the list. He did not want to take the risk of stealing a chance at life from a younger patient, so he decided to go on dialysis for as long as his body could stand it. My fater passed away July 5, 2008, at only 60 years old. Sixty years is not enough time....but, thanks to someone's decision to be a donor, we had 7 priceless additional years with him. I am passionate about Organ Donor Awareness because I believe there are more people who simply forget to take the necessary steps to save lives with their tissue and organs than there are people who actually choose NOT to give. Getting the message out means that more people will know the need to be intentional about their wishes and someday there won't be a need for anyone's dad to choose not to get a transplant because of the high demand for donors.

Child's death saves 9 lives by Cynthia Williams
  - posted November 2009

Last February, my 12 year old son's very close friend died in an accident. The kids were devastated, but hearing that Tyler saved 9 lives the day he passed away gave the kids something positive to cling to. My son has not taken his "Donate Life" bracelet off since February of this year. Tyler's story broke my heart but also gave me a new perspective from the donating family's point of view. Why wouldn't someone want to know that their loved one lives forever in the loving gift they give when they pass away?!

Website with stories of living donors
  - posted November 2009

On this website you can read about the experiences of others who have actually gone through the living donation process - www.livingdonorsonline.org/experiences/experiences.htm

Promoting awareness and information about the need for organ and tissue donors and donor card registration

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