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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My name is Michelle Branham and I’m from Magoffin County, Kentucky. I am recipient of a Kidney Transplant and this is my donation story! My journey to donation started a few years ago when I was diagnosed with kidney disease. I experienced many challenges throughout the past few years, working hard to overcome the obstacles the disease caused me. Despite my fight, I had to start dialysis, which helped manage my disease, but could not resolve it. After many Doctor and Hospital visits, I was informed I would need a lifesaving transplant. Although I’d heard about organ donation, I wasn’t fully aware of all the things that went into the process. After lots of testing, visits and meetings, I was placed on a transplant waiting list at Jewish Transplant Center, in Louisville KY. On September 9, 2017 I received the call that me and my family had long been waiting for. They had a match! I would be getting a new kidney!! I will never forget that phone call; I was actually at the Dialysis Center when I was contacted. The excitement I felt was indescribable! Me and my family hurriedly gathered our things and made the trip to Louisville [...]
I grew up with a sick father. He had heart disease and everyday was a struggle for him. He went through countless hospital visits, surgeries, and sicknesses, and there were a few times in his life that we didn’t know if he’d make it through. One such moment was the spring of 2009. He was on the heart transplant waiting list at the Cleveland Clinic and he only had a few short months left. I was only a young 8 year old girl but I was already very familiar with what was going on and what he had been through. Many times I had to say goodbye to my dad because the doctors didn’t think he’d make it through the night, and be it by a stroke of luck or some divine intervention, he always pulled through. When we got the call that he had a new heart waiting for him, a feeling of relief swept over me and my family like a raging river. My dad’s life was saved because of the selflessness of someone else. I am still so grateful for the donor who extended his life. My dad lived another 9 years with his new heart. [...]
It all began when I was three and I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. There were many scary times in my life growing up that a lot of children my age never had to experience. Low blood sugars, possibly going into a seizure. High blood sugars that have affected my eyes and lead to multiple surgeries. I am lucky to have such caring and loving parents who would do anything to make sure I made it through. Now, fast forward to 2013 when I started having a little trouble with my kidneys. I learned that I had developed Chronic Kidney Disease or CKD. The doctor told me that I was going to be fine that I needed to watch my blood pressure and if I see a rise in it to call him back and he would run more tests. Over the next four years my kidney disease kept getting worse and by early spring of 2017 I was in Stage 5 or End Stage Renal Failure. Being in Stage 5 meant that I had at least 10% function left in my kidneys. This also meant that I had no energy to do anything. I would go places with [...]
When I was 27 I delivered my first child, a son, with a few complications, I lost a ton of blood. This put a major strain on my otherwise healthy heart. Less than 3 months later I was laying in CCU fighting for my life. I was transferred to Vanderbilt University Heart Center with the thought that if I didn't receive a heart, I would die. They were able to stabilize me for the next 8 years. Finally the day came where My heart had gotten bad enough that I had to have a heart pump put in. I had surgery to implant the heart pump on October 14, 2015 and then due to some complications I very quickly, 3 months and 12 days later, received my gift of life on January 26, 2016. My body fought hard. Recovering from 2 major open heart surgeries only 3 months apart was no easy feat. I'm very thankful for my donor and would not change a thing about my story. My son is now 11, he was 8 at the time of transplant. I'm grateful and thankful to be able to spend these 3 precious years with him. I hope to spend [...]
Preshus and her sister Ashley My question to everyone has always been, "why not be a donor?” For as long as I can remember I’ve always said that if I’m a match I would donate and that if I were to die, please make sure that everything is donated because that would mean I’ve helped someone. As an older sister, I have always been protective of my sister Ashley and when she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes I can remember becoming more protective of her. We had to learn how to administer a blood test and practice giving shots to an orange in order to be able to do this for her. Watching her go through daily blood sugar testing and administering shots to her having vision loss and enduring surgeries to repair it. She is a strong individual and one that always pushes forward with a smile on her face that is magnetic to everyone around her. When she was diagnosed in 2013 with Chronic Kidney Disease, our family was faced with another trial to hurdle and that we did. Ashley had to change her way of life by watching her fluid intake and what she [...]
Before transplant Brandon was just 28 when he went to the hospital for what he thought was severe indigestion. This visit ended up lasting 3 weeks and he was diagnosed with Polycythemia and Budd Chiari. These two rare diseases affected both his gallbladder as well as his liver and spleen. Prior to this visit, Brandon had always been a pretty sleepy guy. He would sometimes come home from work and go straight to bed, sleeping right through until the next morning. As it turns out, this was a side effect of a buildup of ammonia in the blood causing extreme fatigue. The years following diagnosis proved to be challenging for Brandon. As a father of 2, it was hard to miss out on major portions of his kid’s childhood with hospital visits, and bedrest. His youngest (age 9 now) was just one month old when he was diagnosed. When he was asked to draw a picture of his Daddy he drew a picture of him in bed and sick. This reality broke Brandon’s heart. While Brandon waited for his transplant, he would experience peaks and valleys in his health. At one point, he was feeling really good and [...]