Costa Rica, Dedication, Mission trip

Lucrecia’s story

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Me with Lucrecia (in the red shirt), her son (in the yellow shirt), her daughter-in-law (holding the baby) and Paty, my wonderful translator/amiga

Last week I encountered one of the most God-filled, humbling, incredible experiences of my life. Lest I forget any of the details as time goes on, I had to write it all down now.

This is the story of Lucrecia.

To start at the very beginning, I woke up around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, and couldn’t fall back asleep for awhile. I know whenever it takes awhile to sleep, especially on mission trips, that it’s a sign that God wants me to pray. So I started praying — praying for my teammates, for the people we’d encounter later that day — and suddenly I knew I needed to pray for someone I’d encounter that day, someone who was suffering from some deep heartache. I knew it was God’s voice inside of me. I kept picturing a face with tears streaming down it. To some this may sound like some crazy talk, but I knew distinctly it was the voice of God talking to me, so I started praying for this unknown, weeping person.

Wednesday morning “officially” rolled around eventually and we headed out to the church my sub-team was based out of for the week. In the morning I had a previously scheduled Bible study at the home of a woman who had accepted Christ as her Savior the day before. Around lunch time, I thought about my 3:30 a.m. experience and wondered a bit about it, almost wondering if I had made the whole thing up. I hadn’t told anyone about it yet.

After lunch we talked to Pastor José Luis and all came to the agreement that we would go to visit homes down on a stretch of road we had not yet visited. So Paty (my wonderful, dear translator/sister now), Manuel (the local church member I was teamed up with all week) and I went to visit a home that was two homes down from the church.

Manuel called out “Upe!” (the traditional greeting in Costa Rica they call out from a gate or fence since almost all Costa Rican houses are protected by a gate and/or fence, so marching up to a door and knocking is rarely an option), and we were eventually greeted by a young man, probably in his late teens or early 20s. He invited us into the back of their family home, which was a tin-covered area with a dirt floor, a wood-burning stove and a very beat-up couch. There were some boots caked in mud in a corner; a few bags of rice sat by the stove. There was little besides that. He invited us to sit down and called for his wife, who was finishing laundry in a small shack a few yards away, with their young baby on her hip.

Eventually we started talking to the young man, but before long Lucrecia came out. She politely greeted us and sat down. Manuel introduced all of us. She started to share her story almost immediately and soon after the tears started to flow. She was talking so fast and crying so much that when I looked to Paty for translation and guidance, she wisely said, “I’ll catch you up later.” So we listened (I just prayed the entire time since tears are tears in any language) to Lucrecia tell her story. I later found out it was a story full of hardship, illnesses that had plagued one of her sons in particular, and the death of her husband 6 months ago. She had lived a very difficult, painful life.

During a pause, Paty turned to me and said, “Tell your story.” So I looked into Lucrecia’s sorrowful eyes and told her my story — how I grew up in the church setting and was knew a lot about Jesus at a young age; how I could see and tell there was a difference in the way my parents lived and a sense of peace and joy that was different from the way many other adults seemed to be. I explained to her how I heard someone talk about heaven one day, about how it was a perfect place free of sin and sadness, so I went home and asked my mom how I could go there. I shared how my mom had explained to me that we’re all sinners, even as young kids because we disobey and lie and steal, and sin separates us from God and His perfection and holiness. Because of that, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to earth to live a perfect, blameless life, take our sins on the cross and forgive them. He was buried but rose again after three days, which means we don’t have to fear death or the grave anymore. He has conquered it all. My mom asked if I understood, and I remember saying “yes.” I was only 6 or 7 years old, but I vividly remember realizing I needed forgiveness, just like everyone else. So my mom helped me pray and ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins, that I believed He died for me and rose again, and that I wanted Him to be my Savior. And now I have peace; I have peace that no matter what happens in this life, because my eternity is secure in Him. I don’t lose sleep at night or fear death because I know my name is written in the Book of Life.

After I finished telling my story, Manuel shared with Lucrecia a little card that e3 uses for evangelism because it perfectly shows the story of Jesus and how we all have a choice to make: accept His free gift of salvation or turn away and reject it.

By this time, two more sons of Lucrecia’s had joined us and heard what we were sharing. Lucrecia said she wanted to pray, and the rest of the family members echoed her statement. Paty lead them in a prayer asking Jesus to be the Lord of their lives, and it was honestly one of the most beautiful moments I had ever been a part of.

After the “amen,” I noticed Lucrecia was crying again, just releasing everything she had been holding for so long. I went over and hugged her, and she grabbed me back. It was an embrace unlike anything else I’ve ever felt before. I could tell that this was a release of years and years of fear and frustration and sadness. She held onto me and sobbed into my shoulder for awhile and I held her back while Paty prayed over us. It was a glorious, cleansing moment.

Once we let go of each other, she went and hugged each of her children, holding onto the son with the health issues for the longest. Most of them were emotional, too, and I realized we were watching a family be transformed before our eyes.

Eventually we told them about the Bible study that would be happening in a few hours at the church two doors down, along with a reading glasses clinic. We said goodbye and headed back to the church.

I was overwhelmed. THAT was who I had been praying for at 3:30 a.m. God had been moving long before we had ever showed up.

The evening rolled around and the Bible study started. I was playing outside with some of the kids who had accompanied their parents when one of my teammates came and said, “Molly, I think your lady is here.” I ran into the church, and there she was, with a smile on her face.

After a quick wave to her, I started running the eyeglass clinic with another teammate (which, by the way, the eyeglass clinic is a pretty incredible thing to be a part of — the look on some of the people’s faces when they realize they can read their watch or their Bible again, sometimes for the first time in years, is absolutely humbling.). We were winding down when Lucrecia came in. We were figuring out the best pair of glasses for her when she started talking to Patti, my North American teammate/now sister and friend, who also happens to be bilingual.

Patti started translating what Lucrecia was telling her, and I was astonished. Lucrecia said she had woken up that morning and had been crying out to God. Then, when she was taking a nap in the early afternoon, she said she had awoken by what felt like a hand touching her side and a voice said, “Somebody is here to see you. Get up.” And that was when she came out and find myself, Paty and Manuel in the back part of her home.

I still can’t think about or type that part up without being absolutely overwhelmed, speechless and awestruck by God’s goodness. He works far beyond what we can comprehend or understand, but He allowed me, graciously, to be a part of a truly transforming, God-filled moment in Lucrecia’s home.

The photo at the top of this entry is from the Thursday night celebration service, where all six churches that our sub-teams partnered with for the week arranged for buses to bring people from the area who wanted to attend. I just about lost it when I saw Lucrecia, her son and daughter-in-law sitting in the service. Afterwards we shared another wonderful hug and exchanged words. I told her I’d never forgot them and would be praying for them.

My heart’s cry, and one I would appreciate you joining me in, is that Lucrecia and her family continue to follow Him. That they get involved in the church that is very close to their home, attend Bible studies, lean on other believers during their difficult days, etc. Please be praying for all of them.

Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Below: Lucrecia practicing with Pastor José Luis, when we went back the following day, how to share the evangelism card with others. 

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Dedication

Happy 24th anniversary, liver!

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Twenty-four years ago today, a sick little girl got a second chance at life early.

This little girl’s parents had been told a few months prior that she had a genetic disease that was slowly destroying her liver. She had probably two years max to live without a transplant (and she was only 2 at the time of this news).

Then the call came a few months later. A little boy had died in an accident and his family had decided to give the ultimate gift, the gift of life via his organs.

When the doctors took the little girl’s liver out, they informed her parents after that the timeline had been actually shorter than they had originally thought. It had been more like a few months without a transplant instead of a few years. In other words, a miracle that the liver arrived when it did.

That little girl was me.

Today is my 24th liver anniversary, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.

Every year on this date I try to find a way to tell my story, to raise awareness on the importance of organ donation. Please, if you’ve never looked into organ donation or have passed on signing that spot on your driver’s license, please please please hop over to the Donate Life America website for a few minutes to read stories similar to mine, get FAQ’s answered, or find out how else you can spread awareness.

But I also share my story because it’s a testament to God’s goodness. Twenty-four relatively healthy years with a transplanted liver is a big deal.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been told by doctors “Wow, you’re way healthier than you should be” or something to that effect (which, by the way, is a weird thing to say to a 12-year-old or 16-year-old, but I digress). I used to kind of blow them off and think “Whatever” about it, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize how much God has blessed me every day, every year of barely remembering that I’m a transplant patient.

A few months post-transplant. I was on a lot of medicine, including steroids, at that point, but now (praise God!) I only take one immunosuppressant daily.

I’m on the left, a few months post-transplant. I was on a lot of medicine, including steroids, at that point, but now (praise God!) I only take one immunosuppressant daily.

My parents did a phenomenal job when I was growing up of not treating me differently because of the transplant (except for the occasional ER runs to get a shot whenever we found out I had been exposed to chicken pox). They reminded me to take my medicine every day, but that was about it as far as special treatment. I honestly, after all these years, still have reminders go off every 12 hours on my phone so I take my medicine–otherwise I forget because life is just that normal for me. I’ll remember my transplant generally only when I see those reminders or when I see the scar that stretches nearly all the way across my stomach (though it’s much more faded now).
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I went through a period in my teens where I was upset about the transplant. Upset that I was different in even the slightest way because, yes, I’ll always have to take medicine every day and I’ll always have to be vigilant to make sure I avoid contact with certain sick people (example: If you have shingles, please tell me!). I was also upset because I was trying to figure out the “Why?” Why would God allow this to happen to me, especially at such a young age? Why do I have to live my life with medicine every day to keep my body from rejecting my new liver? Why?But then one day I stumbled across Jeremiah 29:11 and it became a verse I cling to for some reasons other than just the transplant, but at times especially because of it.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

To prosper me and not to harm me. To give me a hope and a future.

Some of you may be thinking “Huh?” right now on why this makes sense as answers to the questions above.

But I have a hope, in Him and in Him alone. I have a hope because He gifted me a second chance at life twice. The first was when He died on the cross for my sins and the sins of everyone and gave me the opportunity to ask Him to be my Lord and Savior, which is why I now have a peace about this current life and eternity. The second was when He allowed me to receive a new liver.

I have a future because I live life more to the fullest now than maybe I would have without a transplant. When I’m reminded at doctor visits that I should be sicker, that I have a higher risk of cancer down the road, or that my kidneys could be issues in the future because the meds that keep me alive now, you learn to never take anything for granted, even if living this way is all I’ve ever known.

All that to say, I still don’t know 100 percent why I was the 1 in 100,000 who have the genetic disease I had. I might never fully know that answer this side of eternity. But what I do know is that I am thankful for it and I intend to not waste it. And it all starts by giving the glory back to Him.

So, happy 24 years, liver! I’m glad we’ve stuck together this long. Let’s never, ever break up, OK?

PS, I would love nothing more than for this blog post to be passed around and shared on my liver anniversary. So please, spread the word, share the link! The more awareness, the better. If you help share the word, you can even consider it my liver anniversary, Christmas and birthday present to me all rolled up in one. 😉

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Dedication, Soul-bearing

Davion wants to play football, but there’s no one to drive him to practice. He wants to use the bathroom without having to ask someone to unlock the door.

More than anything, he wants someone to tell him he matters. To understand when he begs to leave the light on.

Earlier today I read the story of Davion Only, a 15-year-old boy who went to a church in Florida and stated his case to the congregation, asking that someone adopt him.

I’m not one to often get emotional, but Davion’s story tore me apart. I felt like my heart was actually breaking when I read this quote from him:

”I’ll take anyone. Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don’t care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be.”

Just read that again is making me tear up all over.

Guys, this is a boy who just wants to be loved. He’s been alone since he was BORN. His mom was in prison and he held out hope for years that she would come for him—until he found out this year that she had died.

And he went to a church and asked for someone, ANYONE, to adopt him. And while two families came forward to inquire, nothing’s been done yet. He’s still without a family. Which is all he wants right now.

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Ever since I was probably 16 or so, I’ve known that I wanted to adopt children, someday. I don’t know when, but I truly believe that’s what God has for me in the future.

I still vividly remember the turning point for me: I was watching a 20/20 on adoption and foster children, and it broke my heart. Broke it. And it’s never been the same since.

While plenty of people have their own children (which is wonderful and I am in no way discrediting that), I’ve never felt like that was for me. Now, granted, this could change, but I’ve felt that way for years now.

Because here’s the thing. There are so, so many beautiful, wonderful children in the world right now without a home or a family. They bounce from foster home to foster home, longing, waiting for the day for someone to call their own.  But so many, too many, never get to know what it feels like to have a popcorn and movie night in the living room, to get invited to the neighbor kid’s pool party, or even what it’s like to have someone who loves them as their own tuck them in at night.

Someday, I want to be that person.

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The bottom of the news article I referenced above contains the following information regarding Davion: (At publication time, two couples had asked about Davion, but no one had come forward to adopt him. If you want more information about Davion — or any of the 120 foster children in Pinellas and Pasco counties who are waiting for families, call Eckerd at (866) 233-0790. If you can’t adopt but want to donate time or money, call Eckerd at (727) 456-0600.

Let’s spread the word about Davion (and the thousands of others just like him). He needs a home.

Davion Only needs a home

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Dedication, Soul-bearing

The story of Peru, a little girl named Noris, and unconditional love

I haven’t really shared this story. Until now.

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I pulled this photo out yesterday for a Throwback Thursday photo on Instagram. But the photo flooded me with so many emotions and memories I hadn’t really tapped into for a long time. And I decided it was time to share the story. The story of Noris.

In 2005, I went to the outskirts of Lima, Peru, on a missions trip with my church youth group. (When searching for the specific portion we were in, La Tablada, I stumbled upon this YouTube video. I got a big lump in my throat when I saw the cross at the 1:36 mark–we repainted that cross when we were there because it was covered with graffiti.) I had gone on a trip the year before to the Dominican Republic, which had definitely made a lasting impression on my life.

But I was unprepared for what Peru would teach me. All because of a little girl named Noris.

During the course of our week there, we helped with construction at a church, served at an orphanage, and walked door-to-door to tell people about Jesus. But we also ran a VBS every afternoon in the town square that was a few blocks away from the church.

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Kids from all around would fill the square every afternoon. It was so beautiful–we shared with them about salvation through Jesus, and they shared joy and pure love with us in return.

I loved every minute of it. But there was one little girl who made a lasting impression on me.

I don’t remember exactly how we found each other. Whether she was next to me during song time, in my group for crafts, or some other circumstance, I don’t remember. But all I remember is that she was there.

We didn’t speak the same language. The interpreters were all always busy with other conversations around the square, so I don’t think the two of us ever had a fluent conversation. I asked her, “Como te llamas?” “Noris,” she whispered back. She hugged me.

It wasn’t like any hug I had ever had before. It was a no-holds-barred, I-don’t-know-you-but-it-doesn’t-matter hug. It touched something deep inside me. She didn’t know me. She didn’t know my story, my history, my failures.

All she knew is that I was there. In that moment. And she hugged me.

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For the next few days, I spent the majority of my time in VBS with her. Letting her play with my hair. Helping her watch her tiny sister. Giggling together about things around us, not needing to speak a word to share a laugh.

On the last day we sat together, just holding each other. She was curled up in my lap. I stroked her glossy black hair, which was always messily done in two braids. When it was time to say goodbye, I cried.

She whispered, “Te amo.” Choking back more tears, I whispered it back to her. I told her in my broken Spanish that Jesus loves her, too, and she nodded and smiled. Then she grabbed her little sister’s hand and walked away.

Noris

Noris showed me what unconditional love looks like. Growing up in the church setting, I had often struggled with that concept. I had heard so many sermons and talks about it but couldn’t wrap my mind completely around it.

Jesus died for me? Me? And everyone else? Even the people I don’t like? I believed it, I had asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, but it was just something I struggled with on the daily level.

Because there’s no reason a perfect God should love someone like me. I sin. All the time. I hurt people, I lie, I worry, I say cruel things. I don’t deserve a perfect Love.

But God sent me Noris to show me what it looked like on an earthly level. To trust without boundaries. To love in purity. To not overanalyze things. To just accept His love, even if my finite mind can never truly fully comprehend it.

paintingThis painting hangs in my bedroom now. I bought it at a market in Lima at the end of our trip. It reminded me of Noris, and it still brings a smile to my face every time I see it.

Every day, I’m thankful for what she showed me. And I can only hope I show that love to others.

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Dedication

25 photos to celebrate 25 years (AKA be nice to me, quarter of a century!)

Well, here we are on the eve of my 25th birthday. It feels a bit surreal, but maybe because it doesn’t seem quite real. When I think about all that the 25 years of my life have brought, I realized I am blessed. But I also know I still have so far to go. Because, really, I didn’t start making a significant dent in my life until the past years. And that all comes with being an adult and branching out and making decisions, but I know the next 25 (which leads me to 50, GULP) will bring so much more.

Instead of boring you all too much with me waxing poetically about all the wonderful people and opportunities that have made my life to this point so memorable, I decided a better way to take this trip down memory lane is via photos. So I present 25 photos to celebrate 25 years of life. Thank you Lord for this life I love.

230677_10151160051531971_453135782_n1) So this isn’t a baby-baby photo of me, but I generally think babies are not the cutest, so I thought we’d skip a few months. And hooray for being the firstborn, AKA STUFFED ANIMALS OVERLOAD. I was also the first grandchild on one side of my family, so double bonus.

24423_10151160051681971_159558528_n2) My parents were really big fans of dressing me up in costumes during the early years. Here I am in lederhosen (Germany heritage represent!). Typically lederhosen are donned by men, but obviously that mattered not a bit.

01121300463) I had really great parents growing up (and still do).

734766_10151160051786971_1016333597_n4) I also had really great grandparents. Unfortunately, only one of my grandmas is still with us today, but I’m thankful for the time I had with my two grandpas and grandma. I’m pictured here with my Grandpa and Grandma J. I think Grandpa in particular would be really proud of where I am in life now.

406165_10151160051106971_217240176_n5) I was a stylin’ kid (until the teenage years hit). I wish I still had those sunglasses. 

207745_10151160051381971_1992341340_n6) Two years and four days after I was born, this squirt became my sister. We’ve basically been inseparable ever since (except when I moved away for a few years).

165880_10150786630656971_2021875514_n7) She’s still my bestie.

538409_10151160050851971_487584999_n8) Two years after my sister, this kid came along.

01111323419) We bonded quickly.

481315_10151160051431971_570351666_n10) Seriously, these two are the best.

12616_10151160051176971_1070688621_n11) There was one time, however, that Amanda and I got into a fight over a doll in our treehouse. She was 2, I was 4, yet somehow was the one who got pushed out of the treehouse and ended up with a broken arm. I’ll have that story FOREVER.

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12) My Grandpa J taught me how to fish when I was really young. However, the young fashionista I was, took over about .2 seconds after this photo was taken. A gust of wind blew my awesome trucker hat off, so I jumped into the pond behind me to rescue it. Grandpa wasn’t too thrilled.

184435_10151160051486971_1652413174_n13) I have some really great cousins, but there was that time my cousin Lauren gave me a box of our great-grandma’s hair.  I was 7. And it’s a long, weird family tradition story.

397667_10151160050951971_203894715_n14) We took a lot of family vacations growing up, which was simply the best. I somehow ended up in front of the White House on one of these trips in a glow-in-the-dark Tweety shirt, skort (skirt + shorts for the less enlightened), high white socks and Birkenstocks. Can’t say I miss the 90s too much.

165073_10151160051296971_797752295_n15) I had a rabbit for a few years, but this is probably the only photo of the two of us together that exists. Because she was basically a devil bunny. Just look at her eyes.

74332_10151160050116971_707113158_n16) I was the luckiest 15-year-old kid, apparently, because I won a family vacation to Disney World that year. It was, well, magical. I want to go back.

408408_10151160050726971_622747423_n17) It was during this vacation that I discovered I’m not the biggest roller coaster enthusiast.

0112130012a18) I went on two missions trips during my teenage years–one to the Dominican Republic and one to Peru. This photo is from Peru. Those two trips were huge for me in terms of personal growth. I am the woman I am today partly because of those trips.

16711_10151160051596971_1785165311_n19) I’ve been blessed with some basically lifelong friends. They’re kind of the best. I’m also incredibly thankful for all the friends I’ve gained throughout the years. Near or far now, they’re all so special to me.

11563_190050388818_5010413_n20) I went to college and joined the student newspaper for my junior and senior years. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I still have regular contact with the majority of the people in this photo, and when I think about good college memories, I think about them. Working on staff also gave me a boost on my resume, so that was just an added perk.

32557_388031611970_2390591_n21) I graduated with a degree in print journalism after four years, which was a mini-miracle for me. BUT I DID IT.

31107_393274461970_5340982_n22) After I graduated, I headed to Washington, D.C. for the summer. It was an incredible summer in the city of my dreams. I’d like to return one day. Eventually.

431920_10150587042216971_2065374074_n23) After D.C., I moved to Brownsville, Texas for nearly two years. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Though I always missed Wisconsin, that community was like none other and I miss them daily. I learned a lot living there.

563996_10151010806516971_1467229076_n24) Then I got a chance to move back to my home, which I obviously took. And I am so happy I did.

Molly's Packers bday 01925) Today I got to spend my pre-birthday with some of the people I love most in the world. I am a lucky girl. Two things would’ve made it even better: a Packers win and the ability to fly in friends spread out over the U.S.

Here’s to the first 25 years. Let’s see what the next quarter of a century brings.

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Dedication

My soul twin’s gettin’ hitched! (also: bridesmaid giddiness)

385396_10150943604506971_1721998316_nAllow me to gush for just a moment. One of my dearest friends, the person I refer to as my “soul twin,” got engaged a few weeks ago. Though I now live over a thousand miles away, squealing about it over the phone with her was an awesome experience.

One of the great things about friendships is that each one is different. Different levels of connection, different things you’re in sync about, different plans you make together, and so forth. And I will never forget the moment Christyn and I realized we’re basically the same person in two different bodies, thus “soul twins.” We were at my apartment having a chick flick night and she was explaining how she feels like she’s a gypsy on the inside. To which I yelled out, “THAT’S SO ME!” It sounds silly and corny to most of you probably, but it was a huge moment for us realizing we weren’t alone in the way we felt about life.

Another big moment for me in our friendship was when our group of friends went camping together (one of my favorite Texas memories). Several of us had to travel up a day later than the rest of the gang, so we arrived at the camp (really, a shack in the middle of the Hill Country of Texas) rather late that night to be joined up with the group returning from the swimming hole, which was when Christyn, soaking wet, jumped off the pick-up and ran to give me a big hug as she said, “I’ve been waiting for you to come! I kept thinking yesterday about how I couldn’t wait until you got here!” We bonded a lot on the trip, especially when we had to deal with the discovery of a mouse in the toilet at 3 a.m. (but that’s a story for another day).

Christyn also brought me Chick-fil-A when I was sick with a migraine one day. (Strangely that was the only thing that sounded good to me in the moment.) That is a sign of a true friend.

I had been planning to make a return visit to Texas sometime in the near future, so Christyn + Richie’s wedding was a perfect catalyst to make it a reality! I’m very excited to see everyone again.

And then Christyn called me today and asked if I would be one of her bridesmaids. Words cannot express how giddy I was. I’ll blame part of it on the fact that I’ve never been a bridesmaid before, but it was mostly because it means so much to me that I’ll be able to stand up with such a great friend as she marries the love of her life.

And now I need to get IN SHAPE. Ha. Which is also perfect timing because I really did want to focus on working out on a consistent basis come 2013, but wasn’t sure if I could fully commit and convince myself to follow through. This is definitely the kick in the rear I needed. So I’ll be keeping you all posted on that progress!

All that to say: Christyn + Richie, I am so happy for you two. And I cannot wait for the party that will be your wedding. 🙂

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Dedication

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.

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