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Recipient Stories

Tuesday’s Tale: An Incredible Gift

My story started when I was only 11 years old. I went into the doctor for a checkup and I learned I had cirrhosis, meaning there was scarring in my liver and it wasn’t able to function properly. I immediately had to start taking medication to try to manage the issue.

Having liver failure was difficult. As a result, I had a low iron count and felt tired all the time. For my sixth grade school year, my parents tried to make my life a little easier by switching me to home schooling. While this helped me deal with the fatigue and complications of liver failure, my disease progressed and when I was 12 I was put on the waiting list for a transplant.

While I was waiting for a transplant, we moved to a new house and I went back to school my seventh grade year.  I loved school and loved being around all of my new friends, despite the health challenges I was facing.

Soon after I turned 13 we got the call that there was a liver available for me. At the time, I didn’t understand the magnitude of the situation and I didn’t want to go to the hospital. My sister and I were at home having fun, and having been in and out of hospitals since infancy, I wasn’t looking forward to surgery.  I actually told my mom I wasn’t going! Today, I’m just thankful my mother knew better and took me to the hospital and so thankful for the donor who made the transplant possible.

My transplant operation took 15 hours. During my recovery, everyone I knew did their best to help me. My teachers were very understanding and brought me my homework so that I could finish the school year on time.  My nurses also went out of their way to make me feel at home by doing things like braiding my hair and painting my nails. Soon, my room was filled with cards from all of my friends and family. I was so grateful for all the support I received during my recovery period. I saved all my cards and I sometimes still look at them!

Following recovery, it was great to be back at school with my friends!   I tried out for cheerleading two months after my transplant and made the team! !  I also got the opportunity to run track, something I had always wanted to do.  I went on to attend The Ohio State University and graduated with a degree in human development and strategic communication.  None of this would have been possible without my donor.

I started working after college and I was having a great time, but something was missing. I realized I wanted to be helping people, the same way everyone helped me when I was in the hospital.  I wanted to pay forward the gift my donor gave me. I decided to go back to school and become a nurse. Now, I want to work with organ recipients and make a difference in people’s lives.

Currently, I’m doing everything to try and make the most of my life. I have a fun side job as a wine tender at a local wine bar and I spend lots of time with my two amazing dogs Bebe and Mr. Big and my wonderful fiancé, Mark!   I also enjoy studying consciousness and healing, and am working on integrating these principles into my career in nursing!

In addition, I’m a Donate life Ambassador with Lifeline of Ohio. I love sharing my story and letting people know about all the benefits of organ donation.  I feel blessed that someone someone made the choice to be an organ donor so that I can be here and help spread the word so that more lives can be saved!

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