Post Number: 1
|Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 02:43 pm: ||
My journey began around 1993 with three words totally foreign to me Dilated Cardio- Myopathy. What did it mean? How did I get it? Is there any cure? My doctor said my heart was beginning to enlarge, I had an enlarged heart. In 1995, he really hit me with a sledge hammer when he said “if I want to live I am going to have to think about getting a heart transplant”. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing “A Heart Transplant” how could this be happening to me. In 1995, I was evaluated and placed on the heart transplant list at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.
My biggest concern now were my two sons and daughter what was going to happen to them should I die, I didn’t want to die. My heart began to deteriorate; I became weaker and more dependent on others. I could no longer walk a few feet without becoming exhausted; I couldn’t talk without gasping for air. People were afraid to be around me fear of me dying in their presence, imagine becoming exhausted chewing food. This was my life I was waiting to die I had been given six months to live in the spring of 1996 if I didn’t get a new heart.
How do you tell your children you could die? There lives were already in turmoil as I had to depend on them more and more as they witnessed me deteriorate. All I could do now was to trust God “the giver of all perfect gifts” My only other life line was the Heart & Lung Support Group at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital where I shed a lot of tears this was the only place where I felt safe, the emotional support I received helped to keep me grounded as I knew I was not alone.
I soon found myself in a dark place and to my astonishment I wasn’t the only one who had or was having the same thoughts. I was hoping for someone to die! How can another human being actually hope for another to die especially when you know the type of death “Brain Death” a person needed to die in order to become a potential organ donor the ending of all brain activity caused by a gun shot to the head, blunt trauma to the head, a brain aneurism just to name a few causes.
July 25, 1996 was my 52nd birthday the very next day I was admitted into the hospital, I was in congestive heart failure and my body was retaining fluids. I was placed on a Lasix drip to treat fluid accumulation. On August 2nd my day would start out just like the previous ones I was sick and tired of being tired. Would I ever get a new heart?
At 6:10pm my phone rings it’s my transplant coordinator she said “I need to get to the hospital as quickly as possible we have a heart for you”. I hung up the phone and I began to cry my tears weren’t for me they were for a family I didn’t know. What I had been hoping for was now real Someone Died! I couldn’t even begin to imagine the pain his or her family must have been in and I began to wish it hadn’t happen. Then the guilt began to consume me I had hoped for some to die. How I got to the hospital is still vague l do remember I shed a lot of tears. I was admitted and prep for surgery by 11:00 pm I was being brought down for surgery sometime the next morning I had a new heart.
My life from that day on has never been the same in fact I have had the best years of my life. I have committed my life to educating the public about the “gift of life” In 1998; I became a cofounder of Transplant Speakers International whose mission is to train recipients and donor families how to present their stories to educate the public about organ & tissue donation.
Soon after my transplant I became a member of Achilles Track Club*. I began to wonder if Fitzgerald (my donor) ever wanted to run a marathon and if he did I was going to fulfill his dream on November 2, 1997 I completed our first of ten NYC Marathons. In 1998, I met my donors family I now had a new family of brothers and sisters. I also found out Fitzgerald had no desire to run a marathon. In 1999 I ran the New York City Marathon with my Mac, my donor’s brother after crossing the finish line my mom (my donor’s mother) was there to present us with our medals. I also participated in the US Transplant Games in 2000 & 2002 and carried the Olympic Torch for the 2002 Salt Lake Utah Olympics in its journey through NYC.
In 2006, I began a journey to promote organ & tissue donation by completing a marathon in all fifty states. It would also give me an opportunity to “Thank Donor Families” for the lives they have helped save. I also hoped it would encourage those awaiting transplants that they can lead active lives. As of January 2009 I have completed a marathon in twenty-six states. My goal for 2009 will be ten states.
*Their mission is to enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics, to promote personal achievement, enhanced self-esteem, and to lower barriers.
Post Number: 2656
|Posted on Thursday, March 05, 2009 - 09:30 pm: ||
Welcome to Transplant Buddies!! Wow! Your story is incredible! You are quite an inspiration. You have done so much for Organ Donation Awareness. Thank you! I am waiting for a double lung transplant and it means so much to me when I know people are out there promoting Organ Donation.
Running marathons in all fifty states is amazing. Have you ever run the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio? That a pretty popular one. I know Columbus has a big marathon too. I would love to hear about all the states you have run in.
I am so glad that you found this site. I hope you continue to visit. We are all looking forward to getting to know you better.
Dx: BOOP - May 2006. Rediagnosed with Bronchiolitis Obliterans Nov. 2006
Listed Feb 2008 - Double Lung at Cleveland Clinic
Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Post Number: 1934
|Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - 03:41 pm: ||
I recognized you by your heart transplant story, my good friend. This note comes to you from your ol' pal in Texas. Sorry that I wasn't able to resize that pic for you.
Welcome to this site.
Keep on runnin' those marathons and spreading the word. OK?
Post Number: 282
|Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - 06:46 pm: ||
What a great story. You were able to turn the negative feeling you had to something beautiful. May you continue on a the road to good health.
Post Number: 1940
|Posted on Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 12:45 pm: ||
I'm posting this pic in your honor, my friend. You are a inspiration to many folks.
I truly love this portion of your personal story:
"I ran the New York City Marathon with my Mac, my donor’s brother after crossing the finish line my mom (my donor’s mother) was there to present us with our medals."
Post Number: 4
|Posted on Wednesday, September 09, 2009 - 08:56 am: ||
dude... you rock....
Just curious what is your avg time?
Did you run before transplant?