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, West Virginia or Indiana county.
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Donna J. Bias Liver Recipient – 09/11/1994 My transplant story began when I had severe itching all over my body. I had spent hundreds of dollars on creams, gels and Benadryl but nothing helped. One weekend the itching was so bad that I decided to go to a walk-in clinic. They didn't have a diagnosis and told me to see a dermatologist. Instead, I went to see my regular medical doctor. I explained my problem, and he took one look at me, and said you are going to the hospital. At the exam, he noticed my eyes were yellow and suggested a gallbladder problem or a blocked bile duct. Right away, lab results showed elevated liver numbers. That same week, a liver biopsy confirmed Primary Biliary Cirrhosis. There is no known cause or cure for this disease except for a transplant. I had never heard of a liver transplant and knew very little about organ donation. A specialist was called in, and on my 25th wedding anniversary in 1991, he told me I had approximately two years to live. What a shock since I didn't even know I was sick and never drank alcohol or used non-prescription drugs. During the [...]
I was born and raised in Cabell County, W.Va., and other than living many years ago for 3 ½ years in Texas I have lived the rest of my life in the Huntington area. My story never gets old for me but at times when I look back now some of it seems very surreal and I wonder how in the world I got through some of the terribly painful times. There is no question in my mind it was my faith that gave me the strength. Faith is not believing God can, Faith is knowing that God will, and for me I can finish it by saying that He did. In 1994 through a routine blood test I found that I had PBC, Primary Biliary Cirrhosis. I am sure most if not all of you know that PBC is an autoimmune disease which strikes mostly middle aged ladies. I was 46 at the time. PBC is a slow progressing disease that really doesn’t have any symptoms to begin with. The doctor prescribed Actigall, a bile acid, and just watched as my numbers grew. It took about 9 years for me to get to the place where it was evident [...]
Little describes better my appreciation for organ donation, its proponents, and families who make it possible than a letter I composed shortly after my kidney transplant. The purpose of the letter was to express my gratitude to the family of a young woman whose death nearly three years ago made available to me the incredible gift of life. My thanks to Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates for offering me this opportunity to share with others the personal significance of the goodness and unselfishness of that family. Dear Kidney Donor Family: I write to express my profound gratitude for the life-changing gift that your generosity and thoughtfulness has provided. The kidney transplant has given me a second chance to experience a normal life, free of the rigors of hemodialysis. My wife and twin sons also want you to know how grateful they are. For 20 long months, I awoke at 4 a.m. three days a week to prepare for my 5:30 a.m. dialysis sessions. The sessions were exhausting and challenging, and appeared to be never-ending. Your gift brought that to a conclusion. I realize that because of the passing of your loved one, the transplant was made possible. And I know your [...]
Early in our married life, my husband Craig and I became organ donors by signing the back of our driver's license. We never questioned our decisions. We were fortunate to share 39 years of marriage. Craig was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer in 2008, We had many discussions about end of life wishes before surgeries and treatments and organ donation remained a constant. He suffered a cancer related stroke in 2015, but remained strong in his resolve to enjoy life as a cancer and stroke survivor. At 6'6" tall, it seemed this larger than life husband, father, and grandfather was invincible, but he suffered a massive pulmonary embolism in November 2016. Given his health history I had no idea whether he could still be an organ donor. I asked about this possibility with a compassionate KODA employee. That night in the ER I gave permission for his corneas to become a gift of sight, as well as other bone, skin or tissues. In the weeks following, one of the most meaningful gifts our family received was the medal and certificate from KODA. Even more precious was the letter from the Kentucky Eye Bank sharing the news that both corneas were [...]
My 18 year old son, Tyson, was diagnosed in February 2018 with IgA Nephropathy. His blood pressure was elevated during and after a minor surgery in January. He’s doctor ran blood tests and we were sent to Norton Children’s in Louisville. There it was determined through a kidney biopsy that it was indeed IgA. His health progressively worsened, and by May he was starting home peritoneal dialysis nightly. In June he was hospitalized after having 2 seizures due to his high blood pressure. We were told he would need a kidney transplant. He was placed on the national registry and I was being vetted and tested as a potential donor. We received word September 5 I was eligible for donation, and on October 9, at Norton Children’s, I gave him his second chance at life. He’s a very athletic kid, who plays soccer for a traveling club as well as his high school. He missed the spring season with his club, and his senior season with his high school team. He’s been told he’ll be able to practice and play this coming spring with his club. He will graduate with honors May 2019 from McCracken County High School. He has [...]
My Son, Brayden was born with Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome. He has under gone 3 open heart surgeries-10 surgeries total, plus numerous heart caths and stress tests. He has lead a relatively "normal" life. He loves basketball. This year he turned 16 years old. 4 months later we learned he would need a new heart, as his was getting tired and worn out. In June of this year he suffered a stroke due to the pumping of his heart being so weak. He has recovered well from the stroke. However, we now realize his need for a new heart is becoming more urgent than we thought. He is now on a continuous IV at home. He has been on the waiting list for 6 months. Many of his friends at the Children's hospital have received their gift of life. Those kids are amazing and I am so happy for them. Brayden said it is his turn now. I can't wait to see what Brayden can do with a healthy heart! He wants to go to college and become a basketball coach. Heartfelt thanks to all those who choose to donate life