Dear Donor Family

For the last several years Springtime is always such a time of mixed emotions for me. The Spring of 2014 was filled with Doctor visits to try to figure out the reason for my shortness of breath. The Spring 2016 my Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis was “winning” until May 21. That evening The Cleveland Clinic called to let me know they had found the right match for my need of a lung transplant. Even with the many complications in recovery from my surgery, I have always wanted personally thank my donor’s family. Transplant recipients are required to wait at least one year before attempting to connect with a letter containing no traceable personal details. Rarely is there any reply and I have not received any. But every Spring I read the letter again. Here are some excepts:

Dear Donor Family, May 30, 2017 

I have started this letter in my mind so often and I am now attempting to write down my thoughts. The thing I am stuck on is this: how can I find the words to say thank you for your gift of new life to me?

Through your gracious donation I was able to hold my newest grandson last November and walk my oldest daughter down the aisle at her wedding just a couple weeks ago. Those are the highlights of my last year, but really every day,… every breath, is so much more special because of my new lungs. My whole family, which includes my wife and five kids (four of them are married), and currently four grandchildren, are all so appreciative of your gift of life to me. My daughter who was recently married had a white candle glowing on the stage throughout the ceremony and the reception that brightly burned in honor of your donation. The wedding program stated in italics at the bottom this memorial: “The candle glows in honor of our donor family and with our deepest gratitude for the gift of life.”

I am committed to the daily lifestyle changes that will keep them healthy as long as possible. It is the least I can do to hopefully match the depth of your sacrifice and love. I am able to return to my career as a public servant and because of your donation many others lives will be affected. 

With my constant thanks and love,

There are so many signs of new life every Spring and it is so fitting that every April is Donate Life Awarenesses Month. I am enjoying every breath!

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