Clint, 2 Time Living Transplant Recipient
No one could have told me I would lose my kidneys at age 45. I was a healthy and strong, hard charging attorney, except I had this little problem with high blood pressure. That little blood pressure problem led to a kidney transplant in 2004. You too may be healthy and strong, but if you suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes you too can loss yours.
Now, many people may say that dialysis is the solution. While dialysis does preserve your life – it is not fun, it is not cool, and it is not the way you want to live your life. This 3 or 4 day a week, life saving procedure does help to preserve your life, BUT please don’t be mistaken, people die everyday on dialysis while waiting on you to be a kidney or other organ donor. I know I was on dialysis and I saw people crash while receiving this life saving procedure.
There are100,000 people on the national transplant waitlist, and almost half are minorities. This number goes up every day. Over 1800 of those people are in Louisiana awaiting Kidney transplants. African American’s represent over 72% on the waiting list.
My earthly hero is Allison Sutton, my sister –in- law who step up and donated one of her kidneys to me and my family. She is doing well today and I may not be here today, speaking to you had she not provide this incredible gift of life. Now there are a lot of myths about organ donations and unfortunately we don’t have enough time today to go through many of them but please know, the most important thing I want you to take away from what I am saying today is that Donation is about Life, not Death. Please Be a hero, continue your legacy. Sign up today to be a donor. PLEASE.
Smith, Liver Recipient
Organ donation has meant a second chance for our family. Four years ago, our son, Smith, was diagnosed with a liver disease called biliary atresia. About 300 babies each year are born with this terminal illness in the US. Our son was not responsive to a treatment to help prevent liver scarring so his only option for survival was a liver transplant. On July 1, 2009, at 6 months old he received his gift of life which was just in the nick of time since most of his doctors did not think he would make it to his 1st birthday. Our biggest frustration was the uncertainty that was looming around us pre and post-transplant. Each day was a new challenge with the main goal of keeping our family together and having a “normal” life again. After spending practically the first 10 months of his life in hospitals, 4 years later, it is pure joy to see him as a typical active preschooler who shows no signs of illness or delay.
Because of organ donation:
- Our second son is alive and “normal”;
- We have a busy, active, healthy, silly, 4 year old who makes us smile and gives us joy each and every day;
- Our oldest son still has a brother/best friend/roommate;
- We’ve learned the true meaning of compassion and sympathy through our donor family;
- We’ve strengthened our faith in God;
- We’ve learned about the power of prayer, modern science, and the human spirit to survive;
- We’ve grown closer as a family; and
- We’ve learned to cherish every life experience no matter how small it may seem
Smith may not realize it yet but he and his angel have impacted many people during his short life. Our friends and family have learned to appreciate life and the importance of organ donation more than ever because of his story.
Smith and his angel have also inspired our entire family to become passionate volunteers for Donate Life. We look for every opportunity to share his story and spread awareness about organ donation. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have all helped in the cause. Smith has made rounds at hospitals talking to medical staff, visited church groups, cut up with high school students, participated in multiple sporting events, and made various media appearances for Donate Life Louisiana. Due to his young age and his robust personality, he makes a meaningful connection to all audiences. It is hard to look at him and not think, “He had a liver transplant??!”
Organ donation saves lives and families. Please consider becoming an organ donor today.
Toni, Heart Recipient
“Because of my donor, I am now strong and healthy. I was even able to reach my goal of competing in half marathons!
Bruce, Kidney Recipient
After almost a year of living with high blood pressure, swollen legs, extreme fatigue and many doctor appointments, my medical mystery came to an end and my life turned upside down. I was diagnosed with a kidney disease named Membranous Glomerulonephritis on August 30th 2002, a day I will never forget. It was a bittersweet time for me as I had just remarried on April 6, 2002. Four months into our marriage, our life was forever changed.
Unlike most people, we had a keen insight as to what may lay ahead. In 1976 I graduated from University of South Louisiana (now known as University of Louisiana Lafayette) with a degree in Nursing.
In 1985 I started my career in organ transplant and recovery. For 18 years I worked as an Organ Recovery Coordinator, providing me with a rare look
into the process. I dealt with many families of organ donors and took care of the donor in the ICU and operating room. My wife and I both worked for the organ procurement agency which is how we met. She worked as a Family Advocate offering families the opportunity for donation during the most difficult time in their life. We both thought we knew everything we needed to know to embark on this journey, but as one can imagine, living it is quite different.
After 8 years of various treatments, some as bad as the disease, kidney failure finally came. It was a very dark time for me. The realization that I would need a transplant after working in this field helping others get their transplant was surreal. I was lucky to have the support and love of my wife and family.
The options were simple Dialysis, waiting on the transplant list for 3-5 yrs or Living related transplant. I started dialysis October 2010 three nights per week (M-W-F) for eight hours. I would leave the house at 5:30pm right as my wife was getting home from work) start dialysis around 6:30 after getting hooked up to my lifeline and get home around 4-5am. Everyone offered to get tested which I declined but my wife was insistent on getting tested. She told me, “I have worked in this field for over sixteen years, I know the risks and I need and want my husband back”. She expressed to me how difficult it was to watch me get sick, leave for dialysis three times a week and have little energy. She compared it to almost being a widow.
After much thought and consideration my wife began testing and was a match as my kidney donor. She had two conditions, one was that she picked the transplant center and the other was that I had to profess my love for Boston Red Sox’s- almost a deal breaker as I am a diehard Yankees fan. She chose Ochsner because of their expertise in robotic -assisted kidney transplant.
I was transplanted on April 18th 2011 at Ochsner Medical Center. With my new kidney I’m getting not only my life back but a quality of life that I had long forgotten about. It is truly a gift that cannot be repaid. We are avid LSU football fans, enjoy going out to eat and most of all, we enjoy spending time together as a family. I get to walk my daughter down the aisle in October and will have energy to dance with her. We can finally enjoy a quality of life that has been missing most of our married life. I will forever be grateful to my wife for the gift she gave me and to the outstanding transplant team for the care we both received.
Sue, Kidney Recipient
It is a great blessing to not be Dialysis dependent. My life and my quality of life is exceptionally enriched because of my transplant.
I had no one in my small family healthy enough to donate other than a nephew who was stationed in Korea in the Army. My long time colleague and friend in the Ministry cared enough to be my Donor. We were the perfect match, even though he was 13 years my Jr. Three years later, after we had both been devastated by Katrina, he asked me to marry him. He gave me his Kidney and then his heart. There are three kinds of love in our story!
To read her husband’s donor story, please click here.