Heroes on Foot: My Donor Gave me Butterfly Wings
A butterfly says, “The caterpillar-me is history; my metamorphosis, a mystery; and today…today is a present; my struggle gifted me.” (Manali Oak)
For the last few years, a caterpillar determined to get through the challenges and struggles ahead to change into a beautiful butterfly has been symbolic of my life story.
I was always the picture of health until I began to feel extremely ill in 2009 with no medical explanation. Shortness of breath and exhaustion caught up with me in 2010 and, at age 32, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Bronchiolitis Obliterans. The doctors at the Cleveland Clinic
Starting as a small, frightened and sick caterpillar, I knew I needed to make my way up that strong, tall oak to make my cocoon so I could become a butterfly.I was listed for a transplant on June 12, 2012 with a lung function of 16 percent. It was my son, Austin’s, 15th birthday. I was finally at the top of that tree, preparing for the long wait inside my cocoon! On July 17, 2012, at 7:30 a.m., I got “the call” that new lungs were available and headed to the Cleveland Clinic. Once there, Jerry Springer held the elevator door for me and asked what floor I needed! If you are reading this, Jerry, thank you!
As 24 members of my church family held a prayer service for me back home, my miracle transformation was about to become my new reality. I received my life-saving transplant on July 18, and on July 19, my daughter Alexa’s birthday, I broke free of my cocoon and took my first fabulous breath with my beautiful lungs. I was flying. My recovery went very well, thanks to my donor’s gift, and I was home three weeks later and now my lungs function at 108 percent.
Life has been so wonderful following my transplant and, after struggling with simple daily tasks, I feel lucky to live, run and breathe fully with my family. I created “Team Karapillar Transformation” and plan to run the 5K in July’s Dash for Donation to honor my donor and a wonderful friend who is still waiting for her butterfly wings. I pray for her that she will get her second chance at life, just like I have, because someone was generous enough to give the gift of life through organ donation. Kara the Caterpillar became a beautiful butterfly because of my guardian grandmothers, my support system and my donor hero.When a diagnosis compromises your health, you are left fearing what each day will bring you. Life is precious and you have the power to help. Please consider becoming an organ donor so you can help others like me live a wonderful second life!