When I got my driver’s license at 16, I vividly remember reading the question, “Would you like to be an organ donor?” followed by a check “yes” or “no.” I recall thinking “why not?” and checked “yes” without blinking an eye. As a young girl, I didn’t think anything further about my decision. I never fathomed that two years later I would need a kidney transplant, and then many years after that need a liver transplant. Oh, the sweet innocence of youth. Fast forward 19 years, and that “yes” checkbox has evolved into something of great meaning in my life.
My motto for my PKD advocacy efforts is PKD Will Not Beat Me. It is the name of my blog that I’ve written for the PKD Foundation over the past six years in which over 230 articles have been published, to date. Since I now also write for the Chris Klug Foundation (CKF) and in need of a liver transplant due to primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), I wanted to create a motto for my organ donation efforts and my blogs for CKF. I’m excited to share that the name of my blog for the Chris Klug Foundation is… “Say YES to Life!”
“Say YES to Life” speaks to me on several levels. I hope you will connect with these words and they will take on their own special meaning for you. CKF’s tagline is “Live Life Give Life” and “Say YES to Life” encompasses saying YES to living life and saying YES to giving life.
Let’s start with giving life. The organ donation story starts by us making the decision to say yes to be an organ donor and in turn give life to others. By doing so, we have the opportunity to potentially save up to eight lives after we die. We could gift someone who lost sight the ability to see again, and our heart could continue to beat in another body – how miraculous is that? I strive to showcase how grateful transplant recipients are and the incredible impact one person can have on someone else’s life. I hope by doing so that more people will register to be donors and more people will receive a second chance like I was fortunate to experience.
My kidney donor, Sally, not only gave me life, but gifted me with:
- The opportunity to experience unconditional love and meet my husband, Noah.
- The ability to age – to become a woman and discover who I am and what I’m capable of.
- Precious time – more days on this earth to be with the ones I love and see and do things I never thought possible.
- My transplant taught me the value of life – how precious every day is and the joy and meaning in the simple things.
The other component to “Say YES to Life” is to say yes to living life. This means making the most of every extra day we’ve been given. To embrace our entire journey, the beauty and the challenges that come with being a transplant recipient.
A few ways in which I’ve said YES to living life:
- Being bold by moving from Pennsylvania to California in 2010. Noah and I traveled cross-country for a month and saw things I never imagined I would. This move, and finding a whole new healthcare team on the west coast, taught me how we easily underestimate our ability to adapt to change and how good change can be.
- Being brave by sharing my story and firsthand experiences to help others. By putting myself out there and sharing my personal life, it has become therapeutic and led to amazing experiences and priceless friendships.
- Being adventurous by doing things like parasailing and exploring and seeing new places with my husband, Noah. The great outdoors is my favorite place to be.
- Being resilient by continuing to adjust to each “new normal” in my health journey and finding the beauty and positive with each passing health hiccup.
When it is all said and done, life is all about living it to the fullest and then giving life to someone else to afford them the same opportunity. I hope this blog will inspire you to do just that!
I’d love to hear what “Say YES to Life” means to you. Please share in the comment section below.
Please consider saying “YES” today and sign up to be an organ donor online at https://chrisklugfoundation.org/.