Stories written and published by Stevie Lowery, Editor of Lebanon Enterprise She’s got heart Have you ever met a person who has gone through so much during his or her life that you can’t comprehend how they’re still standing, let alone smiling? Well, Lori Caldwell is one of those people. Nearly 19 years ago, she had a heart transplant. She had been diagnosed with post-partum cardiomyopathy after having her daughter, Cameron, on July 2, 1996. The left side of her heart no longer functioned, and doctors didn’t know what caused it. “I was always worried about having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby,” Caldwell said. “Never in a million years did I think something might be wrong with me.” So, instead of getting to go home with her newborn baby girl, Lori was transferred to Norton Hospital in Louisville where doctors explained that about a third of patients with her condition improved, another third could be maintained on medication and another third… “Well, they didn’t exactly say,” Lori said. For the first 17 months of her baby girl’s life, Lori was in and out of hospitals constantly. Eventually, she was put on the heart transplant list at the young age of 24. “How do I go from having a baby to needing a heart transplant?” Lori remembers thinking. On Valentine’s Day in 1997, Lori experienced the first of three strokes, which heavily affected the use of the left side of her body. “But, I’m right handed, so that’s the silver lining,” she said. Lori waited for 17 months before receiving her life-saving new heart. On Nov. 19, 1997, she underwent a heart transplant. “That day was a blur,” Lori said. “But, I wasn’t scared. At that point, I was ready. I had been away from my baby for so long. She was almost a toddler and I had missed out on all that. The hardest part was not having that mother/daughter bond when she was a baby.” Lori came home from the hospital for good in February of 1998. Since then, she’s had several setbacks, including having to get a pacemaker in 2007. Today, Lori, 44, is facing another setback. In January, she found out that she’s going to have to get a kidney transplant. The anti-rejection medications she’s had to take since the heart transplant, coupled with having diabetes, have been hard on her kidneys. “I’ve known since day one that it could possibly happen,” she said, “I kind of expected it, but still...” Lori will undergo minor surgery in May to prepare for kidney dialysis, and she’s currently in search for a new kidney. She’s not on the transplant list yet, but hopes to be by June. Until then, she’s actively searching for a match. For the record, Lori’s blood type is A positive, and anyone interested in seeing if he or she is a possible match can contact the UK Transplant Center in Lexington. “My life is a book,” Lori said, with a laugh. “They should [...]
Kenny has always been a fun loving guy with a big heart. Unfortunately this heart gave out on him due to a hereditary condition from his mom’s side years ago. Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that often times requires a heart transplant. Being a family man, and a loved member of the Marion County community, his diagnosis was a substantial shock to him, his wife and two daughters. Prior to diagnosis, Kenny loved spending time outdoors turkey and deer hunting, riding 4 wheelers, laughing with his family, and enjoying nature with his friends. Once he started to get sick, he was unable to do these things as frequently and eventually, he was unable to do these things at all. Extreme fatigue, stomach pain, and loss of appetite kept him weak and withdrawn from all the things that he loved. Kenny’s condition worsened and he was forced to be put on an LVAD (left ventricular assist device) to help his heart pump for the long months ahead. LVADs are only recommended to those who are in end stage heart failure, so this procedure put him at the top of the transplant waiting list. Having to wait months for a call that was not guaranteed to come, took its toll on the Hamilton family. Gripped with worry and concern for Kenny’s health, the waiting was torture. 14 months went by before Kenny got the call and received his heart transplant on April 8th, 2010. His family was overjoyed to hear that someone was selfless enough to say YES to organ donation and choose to save a life after they were gone. Today Kenny is vibrant and full of life. Everyone describes him as an absolute cut up, as he puts a smile on most people he meets faces. He looks forward to a long life full of laughter with his wife of 26 years, to walking is daughters down the aisle and holding his future grandbabies. All of which would not be possible without one person’s selfless act to be an organ donor. “If I could meet my donor’s family, I would thank them 1,000 times over. They have given me a life that I would not have had without them.” He hopes to meet his donor's family one day, to deliver this message in person. Please consider joining the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry and being someone’s hero! www.donatelifeky.org
On April 16, 2012 I received a call that changed my life. My mother was found unresponsive and was flown from Lebanon to Louisville. At first my dad, 2 brothers and 2 sisters were hopeful for a miracle but as the hours passed and doctors ran test, we found she had suffered a massive brain aneurysm. Mom had signed to be an organ donor online. Once we were approached about organ donation, we knew that she wanted to save other lives. Through our pain, shock, tears, and heartache, we felt our tradegy now could be someone else's miracle. The next morning, my mom's organs were recovered to be donated, and five families received their miracle. April 17, 2012 at the age of 49, my mom became an organ donor. She was always my hero and still is. I joined the Kentucky organ donor registry to be an organ donor, because I can't take them with me. I knew it was not too late for those five families. I put myself in the place of those families for a moment and thought "what if an organ donation could save my mom". I would hope that there are many people who are looking through the grief in the moment and choosing organ donation.
I was first impacted by organ/tissue donation at the young age of 2. My mom, Myrl Bandy, tragically died in an auto accident, and her donated cornea restored the eyesight to a very grateful lady. Organ donation was the topic of my very first speech in 6th grade. Little did I know, my life would be further impacted years later. Mike Bandy, my father, had a heart attack when he was 39 years old. Over the next several years, he faced multiple procedures and physician appointments to battle his slowly declining health. It was in July, 2009 that my dad was faced with the reality that he needed to be added to the heart transplant waiting list. In September, 2009, Dad had an open heart procedure to receive an LVAD to help his heart pump. It was a short 6 months later, on March 13, 2010, that Dad received his new heart. The donor was a 26 year old young man, whose family understood that lives could be saved and changed through their generous donation. Dad was able to attend my graduation from physical therapy school 2 months following his transplant. He was able to give me advice in deciding where I wanted to accept my first job offer as a PT. He was able to meet, and approve, of my husband. He was able to meet his first grandson and watch him grow. He was able to see me succeed in life, work, and live out my dreams. Dad always asked if I was happy, and if I wasn’t, he assured me that it was up to me to change what wasn’t making me happy. He taught me to live life to the fullest. He taught me to spend quality time with the ones I care about. I couldn’t have found anyone to support me any more than what my daddy did. Dad passed away December 21, 2014. As a result, he was able to donate his cornea and restore the eyesight of two men. Dad was a huge supporter of organ donation, for good reason. He would have wanted nothing more than to be able to change someone’s life through organ and tissue donation. I am committed to being an advocate for organ and tissue donation. Lives are saved and impacted with someone simply saying “yes”.
Tyler had a very warm and loving heart. He would give the shirt off his back to a stranger if they needed it, and would go out of his way to make someone happy before himself. He never met a stranger and was a self-proclaimed “hugger”, making everyone he met feel comfortable and welcome, just like his mama. Given these redeeming qualities, it was no surprise to his family that he continued to help others after he was gone. When Tyler was just 20 he joined the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry, after his step-father passed away and was able to donate cornea and tissue. “He was so proud of himself for signing up, he was excited to come home and tell us all what he had done,” explains his mother, Carla Constant. Tyler loved all things outdoors. He loved to hunt, ride dirt bikes, fish, play the guitar, draw, and most of all, he loved kids. He and his mother used to sit in their living room and play “You are my sunshine” together at an early age. This memory is held dear to her now, as Tyler was not only her sunshine, but sunshine for those he saved. Tyler was able to save 5 lives through his gift, including a 13 year old girl who was experiencing heart valve complications. “He was meant to be someone,” says Constant. “He was meant to save lives, and he did that." Join the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry today, and say YES to be someone’s hero if you are able to.
On May 9th, 2013, my family was faced with the worst nightmare any family could go through. We lost our son, my 2 daughters lost a brother, and our grandson, lost his daddy. Derrick was rushed to University of Louisville Hospital by helicopter. Our family and friends gathered around us for support. We thought for surie Derrick would make it. During the long night, we cried, prayed, and told stories, hoping to keep him fighting for his life. The next morning the Dr. Told us there was no brain activity. We had to make the hard decision to remove him from life support at 24 years old. Later in the morning we were approached by the Donor Organization and asked if we would want to donate Derrick's organs. We knew Derrick would want to help others because that was the type of person he was. This was a tragic day for us, and a blessing for another family who received his liver, the only organ that could be saved. We have never heard from the recipient, but we know a piece of Derrick still lives in this world, which gives us comfort.
In November 1991, while living our American dream, we were faced with a parents' nightmare. A car crossed the centerline and hit our car head-on. I was driving and miraculously unhurt. My 3 1/2 year old son Trey, was mortally injured. The force of the crash broke his neck at the base of the brain stem. He was rushed to Kosair and as our family and friends gathered at the hospital, we received the news that there was no brain activity and no hope of recovery. Our options, to remove him from life support and let him go or become a donor family. There was absolutely no question what we were going to do. On the worst day of our lives, we made the best decision of our lives. We have never tegretted it. We have never heard from the recipients and that is okay. It gives me continued hope that there is a small part of precious boy living it up in the world. There is NO reason not to donate.
Hello, my name is Cara Brahm. I received a double lung transplant on September 8th 2014. I have battled the disease Cystic Fibrosis for many years. In October 2013, I was sick enough to be added to the transplant waiting list. At that time, I had been "existing" instead of living. I was on oxygen 24/7, battled frequent infections, struggled to breathe, and had to depend on assistance from family & friends. A few days before my transplant, I was hospitalized and went into respiratory arrest and was placed in the ICU. On September 7th, two nurses came into my room smiling and said there may be lungs for me. I began to cry and was hoping this was the miracle I had waited 11 months for. The surgery went well and I slowly regained my health. My sister Lisa and I are both lung transplant survivors and are involved in the Second Chance of Kentucky group to increase awareness of organ donation. We are also planning to attend the Transplant Games in Cleveland Ohio in June 2016 with our family. Now being able to do just "normal" things like take a walk, go to the store, spend time with family & friends mean a lot. I got to see my daughter begin High School recently too! I look forward to continue watching her grow into a smart young woman. I encourage everyone to sign up for the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry. It has changed my families' life and may change yours as well - Donate Life!
I was diagnosed with PKD (Polycystic Kidney) at the age of 15, after an appointment with an Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist it was discovered that I had extremely high blood pressure. Considering I did not have any prior medical history and was a very active teen, I was referred to my family doctor and a Urologist for further testing, in which it was discovered that I had PKD. I was referred to a Nephrologist who confirmed the diagnosis and discussed a treatment plan and given a detailed explanation of PKD. I was told early on that my disease would unfortunately lead to kidney failure and a transplant possibly within 5-7 years. I managed to prolong the need for a transplant for nearly 18 years by controlling my blood pressure with medication, but not without complications due to ongoing infections and rupturing cysts in my kidneys due to the disease. In May, 2003 my GFR had reached 15 percent and my doctor started the transplant process. I was listed by the end of May and in November, 2003 (6months later) I received my call for a kidney and was transplanted. The surgery was a success and I recovered well. In 2008, I started showing signs of acute rejection due to infection, which was able to be treated, but I continued to have periodic infections. In 2009, my health took another blow, after suffering for a month with severe headaches, dizziness and nausea, an MRI discovered that I had a brain tumor in the left temple area called a Dermoid Teratoma. I had brain surgery in July, 2009, my recovery went well, thankfully it was benign, but I was concerned about the effect it had on my kidney. In 2010, signs of rejection returned, which soon became chronic. My nephrologist told me in December, 2010 it was unlikely my kidney would last another year so he began the process to re-list me for a 2nd kidney and discussed dialysis options as it was unlikely I would be able to avoid it this time. In May,2011 after awaking short of breath, I was taken to the ER where the doctor discovered my kidney had failed. I was transported to a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky and underwent emergency dialysis and eventually a nephrectomy of my transplanted kidney. After my release, I continued my treatments for 3 days a week for over 3 hours each day. By November, 2011, I was re-listed to receive a 2nd kidney and in February, 2012, I underwent a 2nd nephrectomy to remove my native kidneys to avoid possible infection in those kidneys to affect the new kidney I hoped to soon receive. I remained infection free and on August 26, 2014, and doing dialysis for over 3 years I received a call for my 2nd gift. After blood test and cross-matching, I was told by the surgeon I was the perfect match and underwent a 2nd kidney transplant. Today, I am over 5 months post transplant and I [...]