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Recipient Stories

Our Little Boy’s Thanksgiving Wish for a Gift of Life

This Thanksgiving season, my family is very thankful for everyone in our Columbus community for their emotional support through our transplantation journey.

We’re thankful for the opportunity to spend time with our family, and to be surrounded by the best medical professionals who have worked with us for the past ten years. What we’re most thankful for, however, are the registered donors who may save my son’s life a second time. Many don’t understand the dire need for organ donation. My son Sam is currently one of the more than 120,000 people waiting for his life-saving transplant. I share our story with you today in the desperate hope that it inspires you to donate life.

Sam is my oldest child and he was born September 8, 2004 with his intestines on the outside of his body. He could not eat or drink on his own. Unfortunately, complications from the IV nutrition destroyed his liver. Sam was put on the national waiting list in March 2005 for a liver transplant. We got the life-saving call a few months later that an organ was available. We were so grateful.

After receiving his first transplant from a generous donor, we were devastated to find out that Sam began having issues with his small bowel. He had surgery in August 2005 to fix the new issues and to remove his extra intestines. From 2005-2009, my husband and I commuted between Columbus and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where Sam was receiving treatment. We’re thankful for the support of Sam’s grandmother and my two close girlfriends that kept us going!

Sam receives a liver transplant and additional surgeries to attempt to fix his condition.

Sam receives a liver transplant and additional surgeries to attempt to fix his condition.

In September 2009, Sam was finally able to come home. We were relieved to see our boy begin to live a normal life, and we welcomed a little sister for Sam, Brooke, in 2011. We continued visits to the hospital to monitor Sam’s condition. All seemed well until the second life-changing blow came earlier this year. We were told Sam’s liver was beginning to shut down in June, and doctors said he would need another transplant. This time, not only does Sam need a new liver, but he also needs a small bowel and pancreas. When we heard the news, I kept thinking, “this isn’t real, this can’t be happening.” I cried for hours. After being told several times throughout Sam’s life that he wouldn’t make it, our worst fear was realized. We have always dreaded the day he might need another transplant.

Today, as my nine-year-old boy waits for the call that will again save his life, we try to live normally and help Sam pursue his passions. He is very artistic and loves to draw. He goes through a forest of paper drawing his favorite characters – PacMan, Sonic, Mario and Angry Birds! Our little boy enjoys going fishing, walking in the woods, watching baseball, riding his bike and skateboarding. When he gets his transplant, we plan to take a family trip to the beach.

Sam loves the outdoors and hopes to fish more with his family once he receives his transplant.

Sam loves the outdoors and hopes to fish more with his family once he receives his transplant.

While waiting for Sam’s transplant, we tell everyone we can about the little boy in need of a second chance at life. We have Donate Life license plates and bracelets and brochures that we like to pass out. We encouraged others to educate themselves on the power of donation at a fundraiser we held at Sam’s school. We will do anything we can to raise awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation.

Many don’t understand how we find things to be thankful for in a time like this. However, during this season of Thanksgiving, I believe we are lucky. We are thankful for the time we’ve spent with Sam and his little sister Brooke, and we hope a donor’s gift becomes available so we can have many more years of family memories. We also thankful for you – for registered organ donors. You’ve saved Sam’s life once, and we know you’ll do it again!

Register as an organ, eye and tissue donor today and give hope to the candidates waiting like Sam. Take this holiday season as you gather with family and friends to discuss your wishes too. Click here to register.  


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