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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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 [...]
This was almost a forty year long wish. It started back in the early 70’s, when I was a Patient Aide at a hospital on the Urology and General Surgery floor. I took care of men having prostate surgery, gallbladder and hernia patients, ‘open and close’ surgeries, which meant they were full of cancer. Back then, before CAT and PET scans, and MRI’s were not around, things were harder on people. Gallbladder surgery involved a minimum two-week hospital stay. Poor prostate guys were there about the same time. The cancer people? We had to check charts VERY carefully, because more often than not, the patient was not told the diagnosis. That’s a whole ‘nother story. But the patients who got to me were the kidney patients. I discovered that kidney disease affected a wide range of people; and had nothing to do with lifestyle choices. They became friends, because of frequent hospitalizations. The goal was always to get their function up to 13%, because then, no dialysis. They were mostly limited to drinking less than 12 ounces of liquid daily. Salt? Potassium? HA! So, they ate bland food, were always thirsty, had to protect the arm that the dialysis port [...]
I have been fortunate enough to receive the gift of life three times, once from my father as a living donor, and twice from deceased organ donors. I have been blessed with 22 wonderful additional years of life and would very much enjoy sharing my story with others to assist in getting others to be willing participants in sharing life with others that are in great need of a gift to survive. My transplant anniversary is November 12, also my older sister's birthday. I feel like I have been called to share my experience to positively affect others. Please donate to assist others to live on and continue to do good works to help others.
I have been in healthcare for over 16 years. 14 of those I have worked bedside at a level II trauma center as a registered respiratory therapist. I have always been a huge supporter of the organ donation process. I have seen it bring a feeling of purpose and fulfillment in the most dire of situations. I have also always been very active in the cystic fibrosis community. I have watched my patients/friends die from lack of organ donors but I have seem them thrive as well after a donation. Education about donation is the key to this whole process.
In the summer of 2010, I contracted a case of pneumonia. The main symptom that I was experiencing was a persistent cough that just would not go away and breathlessness on what seemed like very little exertion. I made an appointment with my primary care physician, Dr. Ajit Nanda and, after examining me, he prescribed an antibiotic which seemed to cure the pneumonia, but I noticed that I still became breathless with very little exertion. I mentioned my shortness of breath to Dr. Nanda a few weeks later and he ordered a chest x-ray. In the image, he noticed cloudiness in both lungs, indicating generalized inflammation. He then ordered a computerized tomography (CT) scan which was performed at Hardin Memorial Hospital on August 3, 2010. The resulting report indicated “ground glass opacity in both lung bases” which may be indicative of chronic lung disease. Dr. Nanda referred me to Dr. Jose Mendieta, a pulmonologist in Louisville. A second, high resolution CT scan was ordered and performed on August 26, 2010. The technician reported “moderate interstitial lung disease noted throughout both lung fields.” After reviewing both CT scans, Dr. Mendieta indicated that I had a non-specific interstitial lung condition, but he [...]
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 [...]