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Recipient Stories

A Donor’s Gift Answered my Prayers

The day I got a new life, October 21, 2012, is a day I now consider my re-birthday and my miracle.  I received a life-saving double-lung transplant that day to treat Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, an incurable disease. Without a transplant, I wouldn’t be here to celebrate any birthdays, let alone my own.

My symptoms began in early 2009, but they became debilitating in 2011 as my condition worsened and my lungs failed. I needed eight liters of oxygen to breathe and had coughing fits that were so intense that one episode broke my rib.  I had to quit my job of 34 years in IT at Nationwide because the portable oxygen I brought to work didn’t provide enough relief. This was not only affecting me, but my family was struggling with my deteriorating state. My daughter, Erica Butt, once said, “it was hard for me to see him go from a hardworking, always ‘on the go’ person to someone who could barely leave his room.”

I waited to be put on the transplant list so I could walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding on October 6, 2012. Only able to be without an oxygen tank for a few steps, I’m grateful I didn’t miss such an important day in my daughter’s life because I know I couldn’t ever get those moments back. On October 8, 2012, I was listed for a double-lung transplant at the Cleveland Clinic and received my dream call only 13 days later.

I’m very blessed that the good lord gave me a second birthday because otherwise I would not be here today. My new life is celebrated on the 21st of every month through messages and texts from my many families: my church family, my work family and my personal family. “My dad’s gift of life saved him,” Erica says. “I could never thank his donor and his family enough for keeping my dad here.”

Jim walks his daughter Erika down the asile without knowing how many days he had left to live. He would receive his transplant just days later.

Jim walks his daughter Erica down the aisle without knowing how many days he had left to live. He would receive his transplant just days later.

My daughter and I now volunteer for Lifeline of Ohio together to spread the power of donation. Erica uses her green bracelets and Donate Life pin to continually educate others about the selfless gift that saved her my life! I hope to one day celebrate my second birthday with the donor family who forever changed my life.

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