On Oct. 23, I celebrated the fourth transplant anniversary of receiving my double lung transplant. I want to share with you an absolutely amazing, life-changing experience I was able to have this summer as a result of your loved one’s gift.
I am very involved with my state’s team for the Transplant Games of America. The Transplant Games is an Olympic-style competition and celebration of life which happens every two years for organ recipients, living donors, and donor families like you! It is an extraordinary experience being among others who share this deep connection in which life has triumphed over the most insane health journeys. The Games is also a great way for recipients like me, whose donors remain anonymous, to meet and feel the bond with organ donor families, to hear their stories and share in their loss.
My team worked very hard for two years leading up the Games to fundraise, connect to other transplant organizations in our state and spread the word about our team and the Games. Everything culminated with six amazing days in Salt Lake City, Utah at the beginning of August 2018. The event started with an Opening Ceremony in which all 46 teams dressed up and paraded into the stadium together. After the teams had entered a quietness passed over the crowd as the donor families processed, many holding signs, pictures and other momentos of their deceased loved ones. Recipients like myself watched with the utmost respect for what these families had gone through and the decisions their loved ones had made in order to allow people like myself, my team mates and my many many friends to have a second chance at life.
My biggest personal triumph at the Games was running my first 5k! I was so incredibly proud of myself. As a confession, I actually hate running. But it was something I wouldn’t have ever done before my transplant. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to do something like that, something that doesn’t at all come naturally to me, something that takes full advantage of my new lungs. I also participated in Texas Hold’em poker, corn hole (bean bag toss) and team volleyball. As icing on the cake, the Guinness Book of World Records came before the Closing Ceremony and I was part of the largest gathering of donor recipients to date!
I realize that this four year anniversary must be a much more solemn experience for you. From what I have seen in four years, a lot of organ donors die prematurely, and many under difficult circumstances. Selfishly, I want to know about who my donor was. Were they male or female? How did their life end? Did they hate running as much as I do? Where did they live and what did they do in life? If you ever decide the time is right to reach out to me, I would love that.