Each person who is connected to donation and transplantation has walked a unique path. Our stories are woven together with a similar thread – the fabric of donation and transplantation – yet the beauty of each one is that the people who fill our tales are unique to our lives.
Participation in Gift of Life Stories is available to everyone impacted by donation and transplantation. Sharing yours or your loved one’s story honors their memory and conveys a message of hope – that everyone shares the gift of life.
You can search our database of stories by first name or look at all the stories within a specific Kentucky county.
Thank you for visiting the Gift of Life Stories to learn more about donor and recipient families. Click here to share your Gift of Life story.
John-Heart Recipient John has always been a hard worker. He spent 12 years in the military and 31 years as a prison guard at the state prison. Around the house, he has been labeled a “busy body” as he does not like to sit still for too long. Ultimately, it is this active lifestyle that saved his life. At the early age of 45 he started having little heart problems. He didn’t know it as it was happening, but he was having mini heart attacks for years before they started to cause any damage. In 2014 he woke up and was unable to breathe. It was like was trying to breathe underwater. When he was rushed to the hospital, his youngest daughter, Stephanie, was the first to arrive. He strongly encouraged the doctors to get her out of there, as he didn’t want her to see her father die. Several tests later, they found out he had congestive heart failure, meaning his lungs were filling up with water. He was sent home, only to arrive back at the hospital 3 weeks later with his lungs filled up again. It was at this time that John went into a [...]
Kendall, the day before graduation! On the surface, Kendall is a typical teenager who loves sports, her friends, and has graduated with honors. She plays on the varsity tennis team at Carroll County high School, and enjoys volunteering in her community. Her story however, goes much deeper than that. Kendal was only 4 months old when she received her heart transplant. She was diagnosed with a rare heart disease and her parents were told that, without a transplant, their baby would not live to see her first birthday. While Kendal cannot speak to the experience of “getting the call” and “What life was like before transplantation” she can talk about how this mission and this gift has shaped and molded her life. “I have always been on medication and in and out of doctor’s appointments to monitor my progress and to regulate any rejection” explains Kendal. “The doctors were always giving me statistics on how long my life expectancy was, and when I would typically need another transplant. While this might discourage some, it gave me the motivation to go further and overcome those odds”. Kendall and her family have spent a lot of time in Cincinnati Children’s [...]
Walker GLASGOW – When she was 20 weeks pregnant, Tabatha Ballard found out that something was wrong with the baby's heart, and after a referral to Lexington, she learned he had a congenital heart defect called hyperplastic left heart syndrome. Basically, she said, it meant the left side of his heart didn't form, so he was going to be born with half a heart. With his 4th birthday approaching in July, Walker Ballard was a bundle of energy, running and playing tag or hide-and-seek with his brothers or staff members during an early celebration in his honor at the Barren Circuit Court clerk's office Wednesday. He's not home free yet, though. The office's staff had conducted a fundraiser for Trust for Life, a circuit court clerk's organization that supports and promotes organ and tissue donation, that yielded a $2,000 donation, and it collected items for a toy drive the family decided to have for Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where he received a heart transplant almost a year ago and where he has spent much of his brief life thus far. Ballard said the hospital gets a lot of toy donations around Christmas-time, but by summer, the [...]
At the age of 27, I started having symptoms of a disease that went undiagnosed for three years. At Seven months pregnant with my first child, i was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary Fibrosis, a terminal disease with no treatment and no cure. After many years of attempting to carry on my very active and busy life with 50% lung capacity (including having my second child), my lungs began to rapidly decline. I had to admit that the disease was winning and that only a transplant would save my life. After an evaluation, i was listed for transplant. About nine months later i was given the gift of life and breath, thanks to my donor and an amazing medical staff. I give thanks every single day for the opportunity to be here with my family, especially my two kids who were in 2nd grade and preschool at the time of my surgery. I am an active volunteer in their schools and sports programs. In sharing m story, i hope to create awareness of the disease that threatened my life and takes the lives of 40,000 people annually in the U.S. Giving to my community through gardening programs and public education and awareness [...]
I was living the dream; I had a lovely wife, three beautiful children, and a grandchild when my world was changed forever. I was working at the local Kellogg’s Plant to care for my family when I began experiencing episodes of not being able to breathe. In February 2014 after my initial doctor’s appointment for my newfound breathing problem I was diagnosed with progressive pulmonary fibrosis and told I had six months to live. After this grim prognosis I tried everything possible to prolong my life; exercise, therapy, diets, and the list goes on. Despite these attempts my health continued to fail. Following my visit at UK Medical Center to see if I was a candidate for a lung transplant I became gravely ill. I spent almost two weeks in the ICU at my local hospital before being transported to UK Medical Center. I spent five weeks at UK when on April 1, 2014 I was placed on the waiting list for a lung transplant. On April 15, 2014 I received the most amazing gift I have ever received; the gift of life! Although my family and I were happy and thankful for my second chance at life I felt [...]
Donald Walker of Ezel in Morgan County, Ky., says he has two birthdays that are six months and one day apart. One is his actual birthday. His newest birthday is the date of his lung transplant – Feb. 3, 2017. Walker, who worked as a coal miner and spent 20 years in Mine Rescue in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia was 57 when he had a single lung transplant at the University of Kentucky Transplant Center in Lexington. He was listed on Jan. 5 and was on the waiting list for 29 days. “Having a lung transplant was the only way I was going to survive. I was almost bedfast. My wife had to bathe me,” he said. “Cigarette smoking and having black lung is a bad combination.” For Walker, who loves to hunt and fish, the changes were subtle. “I started having trouble with stairs and wheezing. They found traces of black lung,” he said. “I was a coal miner for 36 years and was affected by the dust. Plus I smoked for a lot of years.” He expressed deep gratitude to his donor. “I would like to know who the person was so I could lay a wreath [...]