My second chance at life (and why you should be an organ donor)

Tomorrow, October 16th, marks an anniversary for me. Tomorrow is my 22nd anniversary of a second chance at life, though my life had barely started.

Long story short, I was diagnosed with a genetic liver disease when I was two years old. The doctors said I had until my fourth birthday, max, to get a new liver. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait as long as many others do and got my liver when I was a few months shy of my third birthday. When the doctors took my old liver out during the transplant, they realized I was actually in much worse shape than they had originally thought, so it was a gift from God that I got my liver when I did.

Just before my surgery in 1990

This was about 6 months post-transplant. Steroids, while important, are not kind to children.

I’ve never met the donor’s family, but hope that somehow, some way, I can find them at some point. Just to say “thank you.” As far as I understand, the liver I received belonged to a young boy who was unfortunately killed in a freak accident. I’m not even a parent, but I can’t imagine how excruciating the decision must’ve been for parents grieving the loss of their child.

But they made a choice that saved my life. Though being a transplant recipient has never defined my life, I still remember at least once a day that I was given a gift. I love my life and just have so many things I want to do and accomplish, so I don’t intend to squander this opportunity.

I know the concept of organ donation is weird to some people. I have friends who have told me, that while they’re very happy for me, it creeps them out thinking about it and they’re not comfortable at this point with signing up. I don’t get mad—it’s understandable. Grey’s Anatomy and other things in culture have planted this seed in minds that doctors are overly zealous to do organ transplants and will pull the plug early on someone if they want. Not true.

I recommend checking out the Donate Life America website. They have FAQs, a breakdown of what types of donation you can sign up for, and stories of people like me who are now enjoying life because of their second chance. If nothing else, please take a few moments just to familiarize yourself with the facts. That’s all, on my behalf, I ask.

If any of you sign up to be an organ donor after reading my post, please let me know. You have no idea how much it would mean to me if my story helped make a difference.