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Seven Years Post-Transplant

Seven years ago, on April 18, I received a new set of lungs from my donor, Chris. He gave me a new lease on life that I can never hope to repay. So, each year I have written him a letter to thank him and to give him an update on my life – and more importantly, how I am putting his lungs to good use. Last year was the first time I shared those thoughts publicly, really allowing myself to be open and vulnerable, something that is not in my nature.

Dear Chris,

Well, another year has passed, and I am now 62 years old – all thanks to you. The last time I wrote you feels like yesterday, but so many things have happened since then. I am keeping your lungs as healthy as I possibly can, just like I promised. They are working overtime for me lately since I started to face other post-transplant related issues. 

In this case, my liver is overworked, and because of that, I may have to have another transplant to replace it. But I am staying active and healthy while keeping a positive attitude to try and put that off for as long as possible. 

You’re also probably wondering about why I’ve been to the skin doctor so often in the past year. The anti-rejection drugs I take to help keep our lungs healthy post transplant are taking a toll in other areas, which is why I’ve had multiple surgeries to remove skin cancer.

My ultimate promise to you is that I, along with my my team at NY Presbyterian/CUIMC is completely committed to keeping our lungs healthy and breathing for a long time while we face these other issues head-on.

In spite of all of this,and inbetween all my doctor appointments, I am living my best life – I am coaching and very proud of all my pole-vaulters, volunteering as an advocate at the Boomer Esiason Foundation, and spending time with my family and friends. I exercise regularly to stay fit and capable… biking has become my true passion and favorite way to remain healthy. I often wonder if it was something you loved to do too…

Living my life post-transplant has made me grateful for so many things – the amazing people I have in my life, my “kids” – the pole vaulters I get to coach, my colleagues, family, and my ability to wake up each morning and take huge breath of fresh air. It’s impossible to put into words just how thankful I am for your sacrifice and for signing up to be an organ donor.

You saved me. 

You extended my life. 

You changed everything.

Thank you for these seven years Chris, and cheers to seven more! 

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