Since the age of 15, Susan had been a type 1 diabetic. Throughout most of her life, she worked hard to remain healthy and keep her diabetes under control. Then after 40 years, she began experiencing serious health issues. She was underweight, weak and could barely walk. Her doctor said that her diabetes had caused her kidneys to decline, resulting in end stage kidney failure. After extensive testing, she was listed on the organ transplant waitlist and was advised by her doctor to begin dialysis.
“I was so anemic from my kidney function being so low that I could barely walk across a room. I was very sick and was barely able to move.” said Susan. After nearly nine months of sickness and waiting, Susan received the call of a lifetime – letting her know that a donor was available and there was a match. Within a few days of receiving a transplant, Susan was like a new woman. “At 57 years old, I felt better than I did as a teenager.” said Susan. “After my surgery, I woke up and felt like a different person. Now, I can even work out. I get up at 6:00 AM, work all day and go to bed at midnight. My energy is endless.”
A devout Catholic, Susan believes that her faith in God was strengthened through her challenges with illness. “I feel a depth of gratitude for my donor that words cannot express. I believe that God has blessed me and I am forever thankful.” she said. “Because of my donor, my life is so different now. My husband and I are able to take trips and I have energy to play with my two dogs that I rescued. I am blessed and every day feels like my donor is watching over me. He’s my guardian angel. Receiving my transplant has strengthened my faith, and I feel like I have witnessed a miracle. I try to give back now and live every day to its fullest, mindful of all that I’ve been given.”
One of the most common misconceptions about registering as an organ donor is that one’s religion does not support it. In fact, all major religions, including Catholicism, support organ donation. Pope Francis described the act of organ donation as ‘a testimony of love for our neighbor’ when the Vatican hosted the European Organ Donation Day in October, 2014.
Giving of oneself and making the choice to help others is truly a gesture of love. Unfortunately today, there are still many untrue myths that prevent individuals from registering. Sadly, there are nearly 5,300 people in our region – and more than 115,000 nationally – whose lives depend on the kindness of strangers to make a choice that will give them a second chance at life. No final act is more heartfelt or caring than donating ones’ organs. It shows an individual’s compassion for others, and can change lives forever.