I can't express how grateful I am to all of you for giving me the gift of life. I can say with near certainty that, had you made a different decision, I would not be here today. If it's alright, I would like to tell you a bit about myself and my circumstances in October 2006.
I had been diagnosed with kidney failure a year earlier, at the age of 16. I had developed multiple complications, including near-paralysis and extreme weight loss. I was far from an ideal candidate for a kidney transplant due to my poor condition, but by the fall of 2006, it had become clear to everyone involved in my care that if I did not receive a kidney transplant quickly, I would not survive to reach my eighteenth birthday.
I am 23 years old today. It is with great gravity that I realize this was Bryan's age when you lost him. I am so sorry for your loss, and I am humbled that in that dark hour you found room in your heart to give me and a number of others a second chance at life. I want you to know that I am doing well. I now have full use of my arms and legs. I have regained all of the weight that I had lost. I started college two months after the surgery. I joined a dance team and started playing the piano. I graduated from college last year. I started my PhD a few months ago.
It is hard for me to express in words how much I treasure the gift that you have given me. I am making the most out of my second chance at life. I have, and always will, take good care of myself and of the kidney. I want you to know that everything I have done, everything I have been privileged to see and experience since October 28, 2006, is due to your generous decision.
Thank you for my life,
Dear Donor Family,
I would like to express my condolences and deepest sympathy to you
for the loss of your loved one. I come from a large extended family and they have been praying for your family during this difficult time. For me personally, it has been something that I find difficult to deal with, knowing that someone has passed away in order that I might be given a second chance at life. I realize that the decision was ultimately yours to give me this gift. I can't imagine the strength your family has in order to make that choice as your family member passes. The words do not exist that can fully describe my gratitude towards your family.
I am not aware of what organs were donated, but I was fortunate to
receive a new heart. Since the transplant, I have felt healthier and stronger each day. My illness began 11 years ago when a virus attacked my heart. I was told then that I would eventually need a transplant. I was listed for the procedure in January of 2006 and after what I thought was a short time, had the transplant in the fall. Hopefully, I will be able to return to work in the spring. I will also become a grandfather in March, something I would not have known without your gift.
Since my illness began, I have been a strong advocate of organ
donation. As my family and I have become educated in the donation
program, we have tried to encourage others to become organ donors through newspaper articles and local TV interviews. Thanks to you, we will be able to continue with this important work and ask others to follow your lead.
I hope I can express my gratitude in person one day and truly show
your family how thankful I am. May God bless your family.
Becoming a registered donor is one click away. For more information or to join your state's donor registry click here
Bryan's decision to register as an organ and tissue donor saved the lives of five patients desperately awaiting organ transplants and improved the lives of more than 50 patients across the U.S. who received his donations of tissue, bone and skin. While we continue to share his story in hopes that it might influence others to choose donation, the words of his recipients, many of whom have sent us beautiful letters of thanks, are certainly the most powerful testament to the miracle of donation.
To our Donor Family with great appreciation:
We cannot imagine the pain and sorrow you must have endured one year ago. We can never imagine what your family must have gone through and continues to go through with the loss of a loved one. We can only hope that this letter will bring you some sort of reassurance that your loved one lives on through kidney donation. Your selfless act of organ donation brings upon so many emotions for our family. In one way, this was the hardest letter we ever had to write. We had such mixed emotion, how does one family celebrate the gift of life during such a horrific time for another family? We are so very sorry for your loss. We can only hope that you realize how thankful we are that you honored your loved ones wishes with such an incredible gift.
Here's my story to show you that your gift was well received and appreciated:
I am a 46-year-old male from New Jersey, married and have one daughter. I have been a type 1 diabetic since I was 12-years-old. I have been on kidney dialysis for the past six years and it seriously took a toll on me. During the past ten years, I experienced so many complications and was unable to lead a normal life. I was so sick for so long that I never realized until now what it was like to feel normal. One thing you should know about me is that I am not a quitter and I did everything right to prepare for this transplant and continue to do everything right to keep it. I had waited six years on a kidney list in New Jersey and I was not getting much closer on that list. I was only getting sicker. I came to Hartford Hospital two years ago desperate to feel better. Everyone on the transplant team from beginning to end was incredible. I had a transplant in 2005 and unfortunately due to an unforeseeable complication, I lost the kidney within five days. Your loved one's kidney took some time to get used to me, but within three weeks we all knew the results were going to be great! It was meant to be. We call it "Little Bean." We now come to Hartford every three months for follow-up visits and all is going well, very well. I will never be able to tell you all the feelings that I have for you, your family and loved one, but I want you to know just how grateful I am for the chance you have given me. I have truly grown to appreciate life and never take it for granted. I am growing stronger and healthier every day and keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.
My family and I don't know how to even begin to thank you for your generosity during such a difficult time. We hope this letter brings you some sort of comfort knowing what you and your loved one have done for another human being.
This to us is one of the most unselfish, kind acts that anyone could do for another. Your loved one is truly a hero in our eyes and must have been such a special kind of person. You must have been very proud and can continue to be proud because your loved one has helped so many people like me with his gift of life.
We continue to stress the importance of organ donation to others in the name of a hero we have never met.
Again, thank you so much for giving us the greatest gift we could have ever asked for.
Thank you will never be enough!
Tommy, Tarin and Jean
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