June 10, 2014. It had taken multiple stays in my local hospital, a trip to the Mayo Clinic, being denied as a candidate by the University of Chicago, finally being given an appointment at Loyola Medical Center to talk to the Transplant Doctor about being accepted into their program. Followed by a week long stay in Loyola undergoing more testing than I thought was even possible, more blood taken I surely thought I'd run out. Then the Transplant Team had to meet to review the results of all those tests and decide if they would accept me as a Transplant Candidate in their program.
It had been since November, 2013 since I had gotten sick. And all this time I kept getting worse and no one could tell me what was wrong. When I was finally diagnosed at Mayo and told I would need a Lung Transplant, I naively believed I would return to Chicago and just get accepted by one of the Transplant Hospitals. But no, it was not that easy. Sometimes it felt like I could get an appointment with the President easier than I could get accepted for a Lung Transplant!
Finally, one of the Transplant Nurse Coordinators called me with the news. After 7 months of struggling with this mysterious illness that came out of nowhere and was threatening to take my life, I was given the great news that I had been accepted into Loyola's Transplant program and was now officially on the UNOS Waiting list for a new lung!
So today is a special day. Getting on that list is so important. If you don't get on the UNOS list, you won't get a transplant. It's that simple. It was great news and I will never forget the tears streaming down my face at the POSSIBILITY that I could get a new lung and my life would continue.
The waiting for that new lung also began that day. Because while I was just given great news, there's no guarantee that I would ever get my lung. We need more organ donors. It's that simple. We all think we're going to live to be old and gray, but you never know and should the worst happen, do you want your legacy to be one of helping others live? I hope so.
So my request on this anniversary of being listed on the UNOS Waiting list for my lung (and I am now 7 months post transplant and doing well), I'd like to ask everyone to consider being an organ donor. Many who think they can't be a donor, actually can. And even if all your organs can't be used, often many can be; corneas, tissue and more.
Please consider being an organ donor and letting your family know that this is your wish; put it in writing. Here's a link to the UNOS website where you can read about the urgent need for more organ donors.