When I was 43 years old, I was in denial that I was a very sick person. Friends and family members were concerned for me, but I would smile and say, “I’m fine”. In reality, I had lost more than 50 lbs, and my color was not right, but I would keep on smiling.
On April 3, 2008, I went to the ER. I couldn’t take the pain in my lower right abdomen. Within 24 hours, the pain was excruciating and I was diagnosed with cirrhosis. My mom and wife were told by the doctors that I had six weeks to live, and they needed to be making my arrangements if I hadn’t already. I was told this a year later by my mom. I had no clue I was that sick.
The six weeks went by, and to the doctor’s surprise, I was improving. But it was then that I was told that I was in need of a liver transplant. Wow…what a lump to swallow. My MELD score was twenty one (six is normal). When you reach 15, they put you on the transplant list.
As I was going back and forth to the transplant center every three months, an eight hour round-trip, I saw many sick people and heard great testimonies from transplant recipients. I knew then what I needed to do — become an advocate for Trust For Life. I had seen people in a lot worse shape than I and by hearing their testimony, I turned a liver down because I knew there were people out there in worse shape than I.
One of my childhood friends had a heart transplant eight years earlier, and I would see her at events in and around surrounding communities working booths for Trust For Life. When I was diagnosed with cirrhosis and saw the need for organ donors, I started working booths with her in surrounding counties adding names to the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry. I took all the medication they gave me, and I ate well. My liver numbers kept improving, and they were able to take me off the waiting list for a liver transplant.
Since my experience of being on the waiting list, I realize how important organ donors are. I talk to everyone when I have a chance, and I explain all the people they can help. Even people that are older or sick. There is cornea donation and other things you can give that will help. I wear a green bracelet every day that says “Donate Life”, and it sparks a lot of conversation. I’d like to see more people wear their green bracelets. I also have a license plate on my trike that says “Donate” and has the Donate Life static sticker below. And when people pass me on the highway, they give me the thumbs up for Donate Life. I feel like I am helping to tell people about this great need. A preacher in our town received a lung transplant. With my testimony, and the preacher’s testimony, I know we have affected our community. It is a very small community. Our Circuit Court Clerk and I have been friends for a long time, and she told me that more people have joined the KY Organ Donor Registry since people have been hearing our testimony.
I’m not sure why God saved me and gave me another chance on this earth. My daughter was 13 when I became sick, and now she is a junior in high school and attending prom. People often ask me how I’m doing . I’m doing well now — I have good days and better days. No reason for negativity.
I believe in organ donation. Just one person can help so many lives, and touch so many people. And so, this is my part that I am doing for Trust For Life. It’s not much, but it’s one thing that I can do for my community. I’ve owned a business in our community for over 25 years, and I’ve been an elected official more than once. I know that my testimony has affected someone’s life.
Joining the KY Organ Donor Registry is such a simple thing to do, and it affects so many lives. If you need help, go to your Circuit Court Clerk and they will help you.