I am now 21 years old but when I was about 16 my parents had noticed bruising all over my legs, at the time I was playing volleyball so we didn’t think much of it. Things got alarming for my parents when I started bruising from a simple high five. After being diagnosed with what we thought was ITP I got a splenectomy that did not fix my problem. We tried other treatments that still didn’t seem to work and by now my doctor had me get a bone marrow biopsy, after thinking they got a bad sample with no marrow, I had to go get another one done… with still not much marrow retrieved but enough to know I did not have a blood cancer thankfully, I was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. This is a disease where your bone marrow essentially dies and stops producing all blood cells. Sadly no one in my family was a match, but I was so lucky to have someone out there who in fact was a perfect match! After a month and some change spent in the hospital I now had working bone marrow with blood cells now on my body! I have in fact been in contact with my donor somewhat and I am thankful for him every day! My bone marrow took place just days after my high school graduation, June 12, 2013.
After getting back out and hanging out with friends and loved ones it wasn’t long until I noticed I was having problems breathing. I was admitted to the hospital eventually and diagnosed with RSV as well as pneumonia. Shortly after I was actually diagnosed with GVHD. GVHD can happen after a bone marrow transplant and usually appears in the form of a skin rash or soars in the mouth. GVHD is when the donor’s cells realize they are not in their normal place and they attack the person’s body, in my case, it was my lungs.
At this point, I was told I would be needing a double lung transplant and I went through testing to be placed on the list. I was attached to oxygen 24/7 and basically lived on the couch for a little over a year. When I wasn’t at the hospital for doctors appoints I was at home.
I’m lucky to have a big family who cares for me as much as mine does, thanks to them it was hard to feel alone when I had felt abandoned by friends, but I realized just because my life was on pause I was lucky to be given this extra time and to appreciate every second of it.
It was on June 9, 2015, that I had received the call that the hospital had had 2 lungs for me! (I received them officially on June 10, 2015) I had just gotten out of the shower and was struggling to dress myself as the phone rang. I didn’t know how to react, as soon as I was off the phone I screamed up to my mom that we had to go to the hospital, that they had lungs for me! She didn’t believe me and was in shock! We jumped in the car and got there as quick as we could, my sisters came and saw me as the doctors prepped to send me down. The last thing I remember is being wheeled into the operation room knowing when I woke up my life would change. I knew I had a battle ahead of me for recovery but I knew I had to fight for not only myself but my donor who gave me this gift as well.
My journey started when I was around 16 and now at 21, I am finally attending college at a community college here in Colorado! I have been to Alaska to visit my sister and brother in law who moved shortly after my transplant, my family and I are taking a European cruise in June of 2017, and I have gotten to spend time with my two baby nieces who I couldn’t imagine life without. I can’t think of words to thank my donor and although I never had the chance to meet them I think about them and their family every second of every day. I pray I get the chance to talk to their family one day and to show them how their loved one has saved my life and how I am living it for both of us now. It has been a crazy ride and I’m sorry for the novel but it’s something I am proud of and so beyond grateful for! <3