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A Visit To Remember At Mount Sinai

We just returned from a Patient Ambassador visit to Mount Sinai in New York. We were able to meet with about 30 people who had either received a transplant, were waiting for a transplant or were friends/family of a loved one who received/is waiting for a transplant.

Chris Klug and Eric Barton were able to share their stories about their transplants to help inspire others who needed a little lift up. It is great for patients to get to see Chris how is doing at 17 years post-transplant and how Eric is doing a year and a half out post-transplant. It is our mission to inspire others so they know that they are not limited to a hospital bed after a transplant. That there is life and that they can go back to hobbies and activities that they enjoyed before they got sick. Sometimes when you are ill and have been for a long time it can be easy to forget what it is like to live a “normal” life.

The Chris Klug Foundation strives to inspire others to pursue their passions post-transplant, to let people know they are not limited to a hospital bed and to get involved to help raise awareness about the importance of organ donation in our country. There are currently approximately 116,000 people on the transplant waitlist in the United States.  We need to work together to bring peoples stories to the forefront about organ donation and the effects that saying “yes” can have on a complete strangers life. Would you save someone’s life if you could?

While at Mount Sinai we met a patient that we visited last year who had just received a kidney transplant not to mention the previous kidney transplant and liver transplant. Three transplants! It was beautiful to get to see how she has flourished and gained so much strength within a year. She was full of smiles, eyes glowing and she pulled me aside to tell me how she is getting more and more energy. So much so that she was able to walk to the library and back with her sister which was a total of 2 miles and the best part about it was that she STILL had energy. Her positive outlook on life even having been through so much was exhilarating.

We were also able to meet with identical twins who had recently gotten out of surgery. One of them donated a kidney to save their sister’s life. This was a very special time. They were smiling, laughing and enjoying every moment of the visit. Something that was so special about this is that the kidney recipient will never have to take anti-rejection medication because they have the exact same genetic makeup so their body does not feel the need to try and reject the kidney. This story was so moving and powerful. They were both very strong and were given Chris’s book to help get them through the recovery time period.

Each hospital visit we do and each patient we meet humbles us. All of the stuff that a transplant recipient has to deal with as their body is fighting to stay alive is hard to believe. These people are astoundingly strong individuals who overcome so many obstacles that are thrown at them almost daily. It is amazing to get to connect with them and help them see how great life can be once they get through the hurdles. We are there to remind them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that together we can help make a difference in peoples lives.

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Anna Schwinger

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