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Recipient Stories

My Tissue Transplant Changed My Life

I was excited when my three-year-old son, Alec, started riding a bike in April 2003.  We rode regularly for a couple weeks and enjoyed goofing around together.  I was trying to be a stuntman for him and while attempting a wheelie I felt a sharp pain in my neck.  I didn’t think much of the injury at the time.

The next morning I was preparing breakfast as usual, but when I reached for a gallon of milk I dropped it to the floor.  It was so shocking to me that my arm didn’t work properly because I had never experienced a feeling like that before!

On July 7, 2003, I underwent a tissue transplant to repair the damage.  Thankfully, I have made a full recovery from regained 100 percent function in my neck, arm and shoulder.  I am truly thankful to my tissue donor.  Without this transplant, I would not have been able to return to a normal life.

In addition to restoring my strength and mobility, my tissue transplant changed my life in another way: it inspired me to find a new path for my future.

At the time of my surgery, I was employed by a drywall factory in Pennsylvania and I was impressed by the complexity of anesthesia before my operation.  I was intrigued by this career path and went back to school in Pittsburgh to become an anesthesia tech.  After three years working in anesthesia, I began working for an organ procurement organization in Pittsburgh before moving to Ohio with my family to join Lifeline of Ohio in 2009 as a tissue coordinator.

Now, my job entails managing the tissue donation process and overseeing recovery of skin, bone ligaments, tendons, fascia, veins, heart valves and corneas.  It enables me to give back for the gift I received!

Being a recipient and a tissue coordinator is very rewarding because I have a hand in helping so many people who are in the same situation I was in.  It’s a great feeling.

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