I am the fortunate recipient of two organ transplants, The first was a double lung transplant on August 1, 2002 and the second was a kidney transplant on February 19, 2007 (my brother Robert was the donor for the kidney). I do not know the donor family for the lungs but, I am eternally grateful to them.
I was born with Cystic Fibrosis a disease which affects the lungs. It causes thick mucus to accumulate in the lungs causing loss of lung function and frequent lung infections. The disease caused my lung function to deteriorate and the meds for lung infections damaged my kidneys.
Having Cystic Fibrosis took a toll on my ability to breath normally. During the course of growing up I had severe lung infections and spent at least two to four weeks in the hospital each year being treated with IV anti-biotics. I was fortunate enough to also be treated with IV anti-biotics at home when infections got bad. In 1996, I begin requiring oxygen on a full time basis. At that time my two daughters (Kelly and Christine ) were 5 and 2 years old respectively . My condition prevented me from picking them up, teaching them how to ride a bicycle, attending school events, father daughter dances and even going out to dinner.
I remember sitting on my front porch with my oxygen and watching my youngest daughter, Christine, fall off her bicycle. She began to cry and I was unable to go to her and comfort her because I was too weak.
Not only was I affected by my illness, it affected my entire family. Without the love and support of my loving wife Peg, I would not have survived long enough to receive the life saving transplants.
My transplants were performed at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC.
My transplant made me "normal" for the first time in my life (at age 43). I can now participate fully in my family's lives and be the kind of husband and dad they deserve.
I can also devote my time to raising awareness about the gift of organ donation. It is my goal to make it possible for everyone that is awaiting a life saving transplant to realize the miracles that I have experienced. To give them back their lives.
Finally, It is within everyone's ability to be that miracle for those needing a transplant. It is the one thing we can all do to change someone's life directly and immediately. Returning a dad to his children or a child to their parents. So, I would ask anyone reading this story to consider becoming an organ and tissue donor and "Giving the Gift of Life". experienced. To give them back their lives.
Michael helps run the Transplant Support Organization of Staten Island