To My Dearest Donor Family,
I was driving down the road today and the sun was shining and I had the radio on full blast. I was singing at the top of my lungs and couldn't help but notice how strong my voice was and how effortless is was to sing. In that moment I was struck with such joy and gratitude that my eyes welled up with tears. I have a lot of moments like that one.
I was born with a genetic illness called cystic fibrosis. This disease primarily effected my lungs, causing constant infections and difficulty breathing. By the time I was 21, my illness was end stage. I was dying and I hadn't even been able to graduate from college. If it hadn't been for the gift of my first set of donor lungs in 2000, I would not have lived to see my 27th birthday.My life changed completely that day; I did not know what it felt like to take a deep breath until I had a lung transplant.
My life changed again only 2 years later when the doctors told me that my lungs were failing and I was getting very sick very quickly. I was devastated. I couldn't understand why I had been given this amazing gift only to have it taken before I had the chance to do the gift justice. I had not made a positive impact on the world in the way I felt someone with my good fortune ought to do.
Through a series of unusual events, my doctors decided to put me on the list for a second lung transplant. At that point, I had less than 6 months to live and no one was sure I could hold out until a donor became available.
On March 28, 2004 a precious life was taken from you and a precious gift was given to me. I was 30 years old and I had been given one more shot at making a meaningful life. Your loved one's lungs seemed to be very compatible with my body and I had a relatively easy recovery from my second transplant. As soon as I woke up in ICU I began planning for how I would honor you, your loved one and my loved ones by giving back to people who's lives have been touched by illness and loss. Since the moment I left the hospital, I have done everything I can to not waste a moment of time.
There are no words to express the gratitude I feel for the profound and compassionate choice you made on such a dark day in your life. I can only imagine your pain and am in awe of your ability to think of others during a time of such grief.
As the fifth anniversary of your loss and my rebirth approaches, you are often on my mind. I wish that I could take away your pain but I know this is a silly thing to wish for. I can hope that there is comfort in knowing that your loved one has saved lives but I know this may not always bring comfort. All I can do is live each day with gratitude in my heart for you and by singing with joy at every chance I get.
My heart goes out to you at this time. On behalf of myself, my friends and my family, I thank you from the bottom of my toes for your generosity.
All my love and respect,