Life has diverse meaning for everyone, but when you experience life from a different perspective, it takes on an exceptional meaning. You see, I developed Type 1 diabetes at the age of five. I was totally dependent on insulin, taking two shots a day as well as trying to control it with my diet. I was no different than any other kid, I just had to take medicine an accepted part of my life. However, it was different when I was at a birthday party and could not have cake or had to pass up sweets while at school or any other place for that matter. It was just my way of life that I was accustomed to. I had a very productive childhood participating in sports throughout school, even college. In 1993, at the age of 28, I developed kidney disease. After two years and the long-time effects, my diabetic specialist asked if I would consider a kidney and pancreas transplant? The University of Kentucky had just gotten a new renowned transplant specialist. I agreed with apprehension and had a consultation. I was evaluated for an entire year, checking various systems repeatedly. In February 1996, I went on the transplant list. This was a time before cell phones so I was given a pager in case of that faithful page and had to be within two hours range of the hospital. That meant not going on vacations or attending events more than two-hours away. On April 7, 1996, on my birthday, I had to be dialysis for the first time. This took place three times a week for four hours each time at Pikeville Medical Center by Dr. Bhagrath. This went on for six months. I only missed two days of work while enduring the process. I refused to let it get me down and continued on with my life playing golf and refereeing football. I was determined to live a normal life. I was paged three different times with the third being the charm. On September 21, 1996 I had a double transplant; kidney and pancreas. The surgery took 10 hours by Dr. Ranjan and Dr. Wade of University of Kentucky Hospital. I was in ICU for one week and remained in the hospital for another three weeks for a total of a month. My pancreas started working immediately, but it took two weeks for my body to accept the kidney. After leaving the hospital, I had to stay in close proximity. I rented an apartment for a month while going to the hospital daily to check for rejection and adjust my immune and rejection medications. I will never forget my fight for life. I can particularly remember this one revisit to the doctor when I asked what my diet will be. He looked at me and smiles and says “no diet of any kind because you are no longer a diabetic”. Wow! After being a diabetic for 30+ years, I finally got to eat sweets J I [...]
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 great sadness for the loss my donor’s family was experiencing. I still think of them and the heartache of losing a loved one. The surgeons who performed my transplant told me that my new lungs were a perfect fit as if they were meant to be. I’m thankful for my donor and the amazing gift he gave to me. Because of him I have been able to celebrate being married to my beautiful wife for 25 years, attend my sons’ weddings, and spend time with my grandchildren. I am now able to enjoy activities that I once enjoyed such as gardening and fishing. My donor is my hero; he gave me my life back and for that I am eternally grateful!
My chronic kidney disease had been progressing over the years. My journey began with the UK Transplant Center in July of 2013 when I went through a necessary surgical procedure to begin peritoneal kidney dialysis. This was a tough time for me as I had to make adjustments in my life style. Mine was a life style of “never sitting still”. I had retired in January of 2007 as a high school business teacher and a few days later began my first of two terms as Mayor for Coal Run Village, a small city adjoining city of Pikeville. Helping improve the lives of my students, my constituents in our little city, and doing God’s work in my church was my priority. In July of 2013, I had to make some changes to that lifestyle. I began dialysis treatments and passed the evaluation process to be placed on the transplant list. With about a year and half left in my term as Mayor, I began to cut back by spending less time in the office and more time taking care of my health. I did manage to finish out my term in January of 2015. My daughter, Sarah, and I started our quest to find a living kidney donor for me. I come from a large family and thought immediately that I would be able to locate a donor with my matching blood type. In October of 2013, we sent in recruitment letters to all family members looking for potential donors with blood type B or O. We soon realized this was going to be a very difficult task. Several things were working against me, one being that my blood type wasn’t the most common, and some of my immediate family members were dealing with similar or other health issues. My daughter built a website for me to recruit living donors with my blood type. During the time we were looking for potential living donors through the letters and website, we were reading more and more about a program called the “kidney paired exchange program.” I soon contacted Lynne Polley, my kidney transplant coordinator, and she informed me the University of Kentucky Transplant Center was working on implementing the program, but there was a long implementation process and approval would take some time. While Lynne and others continued working on the kidney paired exchange program, we communicated to all family how the kidney paired exchange worked and ask that anyone who wasn’t my match could still be evaluated and be placed in the paired exchange program on my behalf once UK was approved. Prayers were answered. In February of 2014, my sister- in-law, Pat, began her journey to become a living kidney donor. After several months of going through the evaluation process, she was cleared to be a living kidney donor. Prayers answered again. Almost a year later in January of 2015, Pat and I received the message we were waiting for from Lynne and Ashleigh at the transplant center. An [...]
I was placed on the liver transplant list in 2007 and was blessed to receive my liver in 2013. During my long wait, the Lord impressed on me to pray for my donor and my donor's family, so I prayed each day for them. After my transplant I sent a card to my donor's family expressing my sorrow for their great loss and to let them know how appreciative I was for their precious unselfish gift of life they bestowed on me. After a brief time I received a letter from my donor's mother, we continued to communicate through KODA with one another, then after about a year she released her personal information to be given to me. I immediately signed the form to release my info to her. We are now able to communicate with one another without going through KODA. I am so thankful to my donor, his family, my medical team at UK and my Lord for my 2nd chance at life. I'm so thankful to my family, friends and church family for all their prayers and support. Organ Donation and someone's selfless gift, saved my life.
I was a Human Resources Director for a major coal company for 18 years. I also have been a guitar player and singer for many years. One day I was at work and just simply forgot how to operate a computer and print off a document! And a while later I went into an episode where I basically was awake but I didn't know how to function! After many tests at 3 different hospitals, the U.K. Hospital doctors discovered that I had Hepetic Encephalopathy and needed a liver transplant. I was on the list for over 4 and almost 5 years! I would have the episodes bi-weekly if not weekly! Of course I couldn't work or play the guitar any longer! My wife and my 2 daughters had to basically keep a watch on me daily! Then, after a Specialist Doctor at UK discovered that I had a special type of a liver disease in which it was basically deteriorating my brain! He wrote a special letter to UNOS, which is the federal organization who determines where donated organs are to be given, and they upped my my MELD Score. Then within a month or so I received the phone call that they had a donated liver for me! That was September 28, 2015! I am such a blessed man because of someone's selfless decision to become an Organ Donor! With the simple registration, you can make a huge DIFFERENCE in someone's life and their families! I pray for the donors family daily and I don't have the words to say to thank them and their loved one enough! Because of the selfless decision, I am a father, husband, friend, and soon to be a Grand Father of 2 new grand babies! Life is Good! Please register! May you have a Blessed Day!
I was diagnosed 15 years ago with cardiomyopathy. Medication controlled it for a while. I enjoyed life. I was an instructor at the Y and taught Silver Sneakers classes. I was also a decorator and while working on Christmas décor, I began feeling really tired. They found out that only 25% of my heart was working. I was at UK HealthCare and they put me on pacemaker. I became extremely tired again, though. I was really suffering. So I went back and they gave me something that put the medicine directly into heart. But this was only temporary. I needed a heart transplant to ever have a life again. That year, I cooked Thanksgiving dinner. Then, I went back into the hospital. They had to do a procedure where they put medicine directly into heart, but this time, I couldn’t go home. You don’t come back out of hospital after that. We didn’t know how long until I got my transplant, or if one would ever come. I trusted my wonderful doctors - whatever they decided was best for me, I did. I decided God was going to lead me in right direction. After being in there for several weeks, they came into my room on Dec. 22 and asked, “Are you ready?” Someone had said yes to donation. I was going to receive the gift of life. On Sunday morning , I got my new heart. After my transplant, they had me sitting up that evening. The next morning at 5am, I walked 2 laps around the nurse’s station I was released from the hospital just one week later. I was back in my home in Pikeville in 3 weeks. I’ve got along fantastic. I have a husband, daughter & son. I have 4 grandsons. I have my cousins, friends, and so much family. I knew God had something else for me to do. That was to do His work. I want to help people understand how important it is to be an organ donor. My donor helped 13 people that night. My donor is the real hero. I’m very thankful for them and pray for them. They are indescribably wonderful. They’re my heroes. I have a wonderful life now - through God, through my donor family, through my doctors. You read this sort of thing that happens to other people. I’m just a regular person, but it happened to me and my family. Just a couple months later, I finished my first decorating job. I’m normal, what can I say! Before my transplant, my family was on the same page with organ donation. We supported it. But this has given us a stronger desire to educate people and let them understand how important it is. People can say my organs are bad - they don’t want them, but in reality, you never know. Let the doctors decide. People worry the doctors will let me die. They won’t! A life is a life. Doctors work to save lives. There [...]
In 1995, I was entering my senior year at Morehead State University. I was playing basketball and enjoying life. Suddenly, I was told news that put everything into perspective. I was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease called Bergers. I met the love of my life at Morehead, and Shawne and I married in 1997. I started coaching basketball, and even led Mason County High School to a Sweet Sixteen title. Slowly, my disease started to take its toll. I didn’t want to draw attention to it, but the disease had progressed enough that it was causing my kidneys to shut down. It took too much energy to even give our baby daughter a bath. My only answer, a life-saving answer, was a kidney transplant. My family was tested, and my amazing wife Shawne was a match. I always say that she was a gift when she agreed to marry me, but to give me a kidney, and allow me to be a good husband, father and coach, was truly a gift of life. Shawne never even hesitated. After my transplant in 2004, I was able to get back on the court and continue my coaching career. I led Pikeville College to a National Title in 2011, and the first person I looked for after the win was Shawne. She’s the one who made this happen. She is my life, along with our 2 beautiful children – Kaylee, 8, and Mason, 4. We have learned to appreciate the little things in life, and we know how blessed we are. Since our experience, we have become advocates for organ donation. We want to encourage everyone in our community to support organ and tissue donation and join the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry. There are thousands of people waiting on a transplant, and registering as an organ donor could lead to the gift of life for so many. We want to let people know how important it is, and how simple it is to add yourself to the donor registry. Once you have this experience happen to you or a family member, you start to see how real it actually is. -Kelly Wells
"In 2000, I began having respiratory issues including emphysema and COPD. I was hospitalized several times, after a few days my condition would improve. I would feel better for a short period of time, and the cycle would begin again. Over the next several years my condition continued to get worse. On December 4th, 2006, while at an appointment with my pulmonary doctor, he informed me that test results indicated that my lungs had worsened. He thought that I was a good candidate for a lung transplant, and asked if I was interested. My name was added to the transplant waiting list in March 2007. I didn’t share this information with anyone except Terry, my now husband. My mind was full of questions and thoughts about how to get through this with as little stress as possible for all concerned. After much thought and prayer, I decided to keep my transplant a secret until the surgery was over. I’ve never regretted this decision, it was based on concern for the people that I love and care about. I was called twice to the hospital for a transplant, neither time was right. The third time was a charm; on June 16, 2008, I was called again and admitted for a transplant. I called my oldest son, Tom, to come to the hospital during my surgery. The surgery began at 11:00 pm, and by 4:00 am I was able to talk with Terry and Tom. I asked them to go home and rest. I realized that I needed to rest also. The transplant team and nursing staff were excellent. No one could or will ever have better caregivers. I began my home training a few days after surgery. I learned how to record my medications and chart daily activities. Short walks and exercises were a pleasure. I had been limited for years by shortness of breath. After two weeks of hospital recovery, I had mixed emotions about leaving. I liked the security of being close to the doctors and nurses, but wanted the comforts of home. Everything went well at home. I had a great support system, “my family”. Every day was a new experience. I grew stronger as the days went by, and achieved goals that I never thought possible. Six months after surgery my life had totally changed. I enjoyed walking, working, playing with grandchildren, things I had been unable to do for years. Before and after surgery, and on my way to the hospital, I thought about the donor and their family. It’s bittersweet how one family’s happiness is another family’s sorrow. Many times in my mind, I composed a letter to the donor’s family. I was unsure of how to let them know how sorry I was for their loss, and how grateful I was to have a second chance. Seven months after my surgery, I received a letter from my donor’s mother, Kay, and his (Tony, my donor), eight year old son. There are no words to [...]