April is Donate a Life Month
April is Donate a Life Month and we at A Senior Connection believe being a donor is not a choice it is a responsibility, and a responsibility everyone has to help save a life! One of our staff’s mothers was the recipient of three kidneys over the course of her life and without the wonderful people who made the easy, but life changing decision to become organ donors she would have not had the opportunity to live a full and happy life.
Here are some great stories from organdonor.gov of recipients and donors that will hopefully inspire you to register to become an organ donor.
Two-Time Heart Recipient – Texas
Carlee has a unique distinction. She is the first person to be featured twice in organdonor.gov’s Life Stories. That’s because Carlee is the fortunate recipient of two heart transplants: the first when she was 1½ years old, the second when she was 13.
While Carlee doesn’t remember her first transplant, her parents certainly do. As a baby, she was having a hard time breathing, and doctors originally thought the problem might be allergies. Finally, a cardiologist discovered that her heart was so enlarged that it was pressing against her lungs and getting in the way of her breathing. She was placed on the transplant waiting list and received a heart.
Carlee thrived with her new heart. As she grew, she studied all kinds of dance—from ballet to hip-hop—joined the drill team, and played tennis and baseball. But after years of doing well, Carlee’s new heart began to fail and her arteries began to close. At the age of 13, she was put on the waiting list again. As she got weaker, Carlee had to have someone with her all the time, even in school, in case her heart failed.
To Carlee, getting the call that they’d found a second matching heart seemed like a dream. One minute, she was looking forward to a movie night at home with her family. The next, she was at the hospital prepping for surgery. Recovery was a slow process, but she worked hard to rebuild her strength and get back to dancing.
“When I step out on stage I think that I’m communicating with people,” she says. “I want to say ‘Nothing’s impossible.’ Yes, you can have two heart transplants but you can do whatever you want to do, or be who you want to be.”
Carlee believes that coming close to death twice has given her a unique outlook. “I feel like people who haven’t experienced something like that…it’s hard for them to realize how important life is.”
Now that she’s 15, Carlee knows that soon she and her friends will be driving, and she’s going to make sure they all register as organ donors, as Carlee plans to do herself. “Those people who gave me another heart…they gave me a second chance. I’ve been saved twice by an organ donor. So who says I can’t save somebody else?”
Organ Donor -Texas
Carlton, a retired teacher and devoted father, was a remarkable person who never stopped teaching his family about the many wonders of the world. Carlton himself was one of those wonders. Just nine days shy of his 93rd birthday, he became the nation’s oldest organ donor. Carlton’s wife and children made the decision to donate Carlton’s liver following his death from a brain hemorrhage.
Thanks to this gift, a 69-year-old woman suffering from end-stage liver disease is alive and progressing well. And in his final and perhaps most valuable lesson of all, Carlton illustrated that age is no barrier to sharing life.
Tissue Recipient – Colorado
In just one instant, Manuel life was changed forever when a downed power line struck him. He was just 22 years old when 115,000 volts of electricity were sent through his body. Unable to help due to the risk of further electrical shock, his coworkers were forced to watch him suffer life-threatening burns. He was airlifted to Doctors Hospital, a leading burn clinic in Augusta, Georgia. It was a miracle he survived.
Manuel spent three months receiving skin grafts from AlloSource to heal his burns. However, he still lost both arms and legs. The physical and emotional struggle was overwhelming. “I didn’t understand why they had saved my life,” explains Manuel. “I didn’t think I could go on.”
Nonetheless, this courageous young man pressed on. After his stay in the burn unit, he was taken to The Denver Center for Extremities at Risk. While the extent of his amputations made him a difficult candidate for prosthetics, the team at the center used human bone from a donor to build Manuel a new shoulder that could be fitted with a prosthetic. With his new shoulder and prosthetic, Manuel could once again feed himself, brush his teeth and even scratch his head.
Manuel is looking forward to improvements to his legs as new techniques for fitting prosthetic legs over the amputation site become perfected. Yet today, because of the donated tissue and prosthetics, he drives, snow skis, water skis, and owns an auto body shop.
Manuel admits that the first two years after the accident were very hard. He experienced personal setbacks but was inspired by other amputees in his support groups. “Now I am just thankful to be alive,” he says. “I want to try new things. I see life in a whole new way.”
Please become an organ donor! There are two ways you can:
You can register online now in your state. Signing up is quick and easy. Find your state >
You can also sign up when you visit your state motor vehicle office.
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