My name is Michelle Branham and I’m from Magoffin County, Kentucky. I am recipient of a Kidney Transplant and this is my donation story! My journey to donation started a few years ago when I was diagnosed with kidney disease. I experienced many challenges throughout the past few years, working hard to overcome the obstacles the disease caused me. Despite my fight, I had to start dialysis, which helped manage my disease, but could not resolve it. After many Doctor and Hospital visits, I was informed I would need a lifesaving transplant. Although I’d heard about organ donation, I wasn’t fully aware of all the things that went into the process. After lots of testing, visits and meetings, I was placed on a transplant waiting list at Jewish Transplant Center, in Louisville KY. On September 9, 2017 I received the call that me and my family had long been waiting for. They had a match! I would be getting a new kidney!! I will never forget that phone call; I was actually at the Dialysis Center when I was contacted. The excitement I felt was indescribable! Me and my family hurriedly gathered our things and made the trip to Louisville to meet my transplant team. Fast-forward to a little of a year later and I’m here sharing my story with you. All because someone made the choice to give life through organ donation! Since my transplant, I’ve worked hard to honor my donor and their gift. I’m so lucky to be able to spend time with my Daughter and loved ones, who so many times saw me sick and struggling, but were always there to help me in my time of need. I’m so grateful for my donor, because thanks to them I’m able to see my beautiful Daughter play, celebrate special times with loved ones and simply go to the store without struggling and needing assistance with daily things. My hope is to share my story as a way of honoring this gift and encourage people to be organ donors, because they truly save lives, just as they did mine!
I was getting a little worried. I was spending more time in the hospital than out. I had been on the transplant list for 3 years. Three years of not knowing if I was going to live or die. I made out my will and arranged my funeral with the help of my sister. I finally reached out and put all my worries in God's hands. I would not pray for a donor. I could not ask for someone to sacrifice their life for me. When I received the call that they had a liver, I viewed it as a divine gift. It was a long ten hour surgery. My liver did not want to come out and the donor liver did not want to go in! After surgery I experienced intense pain. Although underneath the pain I felt healthier already. I spent two and a half weeks in the hospital. I then had to stay close to the hospital for a while. This was tough because my home was two hours away. Also, I had not been able to work in quite awhile. Thankfully, I was told about the Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks program called Patient Assistance Fund. They provided me the funds to stay at a hotel located two miles from UK Hospital. They saved me and my family from a greater financial burden on top of the worry that was already placed upon them. Today I am happy to say I'm feeling and doing great! I still have a long road of recovery to go yet. Thanks to the support of my family, friends and the Patient Assistance Fund, I know I will succeed!
My name is Tracy Watson. I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of 5. Cystic Fibrosis is a life threatening disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. During my teenage years, I was faced with more digestive issues. My parents were told I would not live to be a teenager but I beat those odds. During my teenage years, I developed some lung infections. I would be hospitalized 1 to 2 times a year to clear my lungs. During those stays, I would receive IV antibiotics for 2 weeks. Eventually, I was taught to give my own antibiotics at home. I did not let my illness hold me back from living life. I graduated high school, and attended Morehead State University and was able to live on campus. I received a bachelor degree in Education. I became a special education teacher and held a teaching job for 15 years. In 2011 my illness became more severe. In November 2011 I was placed on a lung transplant list. By 2012 I was hospitalized more frequently and my lung function was at 17%. I was not able to work any longer and needed oxygen 24/7 On November 14, 2014 I received the call that would change my life. This would be my third call for new lungs. The first 2 calls, the lungs were not good. I arrived at the hospital, and after waiting 5-6 hours, I was told these lungs are for you. My surgery lasted 12 to 13 hours. It was not easy going for me or my family. Thankfully within 2 hours, I was taken off the ventilator and woke up. My family and friends had endured a stressful night. My strength comes from them and god. They were there to support me through my most difficult days. I feel very blessed and know god has his arms around me. I certainly don't go one day without thinking about my donor. I have been given the greatest gift one can receive. I hope to make the donor family proud of the difficult decision they were given on that painful day. I breathe easy now, and will be eternally grateful for this gift. Please don't hesitate to give the greatest gift one can give. In one breath, a moment lost. In one moment, a miracle shared. Be a Hero. Be an Organ donor.