I’m Honored to Share My Story at Donate Life Events
Since my double-lung transplant four years ago, I’ve shared my story in several arenas. I’m passionate about spreading awareness about organ donation and how my life was able to continue because of my donor. Through these speaking engagements, I’ve met incredible people who are connected to organ donation. I’m grateful to be afforded these opportunities in my second chance at life.
National Donate Life Month reminds me of why I’m still here. I think about my donor every day, but celebrating this month always hits differently. I get to attend encouraging and soul-filling events. I get to meet more people whose lives have been touched by organ donation. I’m able to thank the medical teams who work hard to make donation possible. Getting to know advocates for this special cause is an honor, and I get to make lasting friendships with people who are on the same radical journey.
Last Friday was one of those opportunities. Several of us affected by organ donation gathered in my state’s capital to spread awareness. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) happens to be the place with the most traffic (all puns intended), so that’s where the ceremony was held. My favorite news anchor was in attendance and captured our stories beautifully.
The energy is different when I’m around those who understand the magnitude of organ donation. Each of the attendees was excited to be there. They had tears in their eyes as they beamed with hope.
The health commissioner, the DMV commissioner, the mayor, and employees from the Center for Donation and Transplant were in attendance. A few donor families came to share their stories, and one other transplant recipient attended. Several workers from the DMV took time out to be there as well.
Organ donation unites people in a powerful way. My donor and donor family are strangers, yet I love them more than words could ever express. Most of us were strangers as we gathered at the state’s DMV, yet we all shared an unspoken connection. We hugged one another even though we had just met. It’s a testament to the fact that our shared humanity is all that matters.
You know those hugs where every ache in your heart melts away? The donor families offered me those types of hugs. They encouraged me in ways I needed to hear, given my survivor’s guilt. It warmed my heart to hear the stories they shared about their loved ones who became donors. They were happy to tell me how grateful they are that their loved ones are living on through others.
They expressed how proud they are of the gift their loved ones gave in their final moments. Even through profound grief, the donor families are glad to have carried out their loved ones’ wishes to be donors. Their passion for this cause is so powerful and inspiring.
Later, I got to tell my story. I’ve become friends with the news anchor, who has interviewed me on other occasions. It makes a difference when someone captures my story authentically and makes me feel comfortable being vulnerable and candid. It’s a beautiful gift. And I’m grateful my words can encourage others to make the lifesaving decision to donate life.
I leave these events filled with incredible gratitude. I’m honored to be invited to speak at these ceremonies, and I feel blessed to connect with amazing people who have diverse connections to organ donation. Most of all, I thank God that I get to participate in these opportunities because of my donor’s decision to save a stranger’s life.
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