The Ultimate Gift

Since September, one of my dear sweet cousins has been in the hospital. She has spent the majority of this time in the ICU. She is battling a terrible disease called Amyloidosis. This disease attacked all of the major organs in her body. She was sick for 15 months before the doctors discovered exactly what was going on and were able to start treating her. By the time she was hospitalized her situation was dire. She needed lots of medical attention, including transplants of major organs. Her heart was in such bad shape that they had to remove it and give her an external artificial heart until they were able to get her stable enough to put her on the heart transplant list.

This weekend, we were told that they may have a heart for my cousin. That heart turned out not to be the right heart for her though. This afternoon, we got the same news. They may have a heart, they are testing it to see. Then we got the word that the heart passed all of the necessary blood tests, all it needed was the surgeon’s final approval. The surgeon approved and now my cousin is on her way back to be prepped for surgery to get her new heart.

My emotions are truly on a roller coaster. I know that my cousin still has a VERY long road ahead of her. The transplant surgery alone I am sure is very dangerous given her fragile health state. But this is a huge step in the right direction for her right now. They can move forward with more things once this transplant is completed and her body recovers. But then there is the other side of that coin …

Our family is elated to have this heart for my cousin. However, somewhere out there is another family with broken hearts. They have lost someone who they love. My heart is breaking for that other family. I wish I could tell them all about what an amazing person this heart will be keeping alive. That family is giving the ultimate gift to my cousin and to my family. Our family wouldn’t be the same without my cousin, and they are helping to give her back to us. She still needs more transplants down the road, but this is the first step on that journey.

Thank you to the organ donor for giving my cousin this heart. Thank you to the doctors for working so hard to keep my cousin alive and well to give her this chance at survival from this awful disease. I personally never considered being an organ donor until my cousin’s illness reared its ugly head in our lives. I don’t live near my cousin, so I have not been to see her. I keep up to date on the situation through family members who live close, and through on-line updates on Facebook and CaringBridge. This has opened my eyes up to just what organ donation can do for a family.

I am not posting this to try to convince everyone to check that box on your driver’s license to become an organ donor. However, I am posting this to try to explain to people who organ donation is even more than what I once thought it was. If you aren’t an organ donor, give it a second thought. It isn’t the choice that everyone will make, and I understand that. But for those of you that are on the fence about it, give it some more thought. It truly is a phenomenal gift to give not just to the person needing the organ, but to their family as well.

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