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”.
In the summer of 1986 I was tackled during a powder-puff game and tore my left ACL. I had no idea at the time how my life had just changed forever. I was 16. I underwent a surgery to repair the acl and meniscus and was placed in a hip-to-ankle cast for the next 6 weeks. Naturally the joint seized from non use and needed to be manipulated back into a normal range of motion through an extremely painful process of months of physical therapy. When the process was 'complete' and I was released, I noticed pain, swelling, instability and frequent twisting and additional tearing of the meniscus. I had gone from a running, active cheerleader to a couch potato with the knee of a senior citizen in a fraction of a second. The best the doctors could offer was a life of regular, light walking, biking and some swimming. I soon found my way to the pool. For the next thirty years I swam, and eventually taught water aerobics. Being in the water was the only way I could exercise without the weight injuring the joint further and pain of premature arthritis. Only in 2014, after countless re-injuries, did I finally give up. I had injured it from simply treading water in the pool. I sought a surgeon. The MRI showed a need to replace the ACL and repair the meniscus once again. When the surgeon put me under for the operation, he was able to lift my lower leg freely out of the joint and wondered how I had managed to have any semblance of an active life for as long as I had. My donor acl is amazing! I want to thank you, my ever unknown donor, for what your sacrifice has done for my life. I walked the same day the surgery! The pain was gone and my leg felt stable. Because of your donation of an ACL, I now know what stable feels like. My whole gait has changed as my other leg was able to stop taking over all the work! I have no more back pain from walking askew....Then the most amazing thing happened...I slipped on a wet floor...this would normally have meant weeks of severe pain, swelling and slow rehab, no more carrying groceries or playing with the boys....but instead....NOTHING! I slipped, corrected, caught myself with the new ACL leg, and just stood there. Stunned. Nothing. It felt strong! Last week I biked 20 miles to town, I ran for 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym, I took my dog for a trail run, I played catch with my son in the yard. I still love my water aerobics, and I will be taking a skydive with my husband and your ACL just as soon as the weather warms up. These might seem like trivial things to one, but for me who has done without these joys for 30 years, I cannot thank you enough for changing my 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 [...]