I was born blue. My heart was riddled with holes and half the size it should have been. Most of my childhood was spent in Boston Children’s Hospital where I was subjected to numerous surgeries and endless rounds of tests. Little hope was given that I would reach adulthood. Still, my family and I kept going with hopes that some miracle may come along.
Long story short I was listed as eligible for a transplant when I turned sixteen. Two and half years later, a few days before the Christmas of ’96, my tired old heart was lifted from my chest and replaced with a slightly used but healthy one. I was a different young man when I awoke.
I recently celebrated the 20th Anniversary of my heart transplant and I’ve never felt more alive. Miracles do happen, especially in the ICU. I chose to live without looking back and for most of my twenties and thirties, I kept my heart transplant a secret from all but my inner circle of loved ones. It was simply too much to talk about, too important to take public.
I suppose the truth is that I lived much of my life expecting the other shoe to drop and the extension given me abruptly canceled. I never expected to see 40. I was worried such a miracle may be asking too much. I was afraid to ruin my good fortune by talking about it.
But the time has come for me to acknowledge the awesome gift I was given and to pay back what I owe. I don’t have much money, I never accomplished much in the working world, but I’m wealthy with friends and rich in experiences. I love my little life and I hope that by sharing my love of this second chance I might inspire others to consider organ donation.
I have great admiration for your organization and the commitment witnessed on the Instagram feed of which I discovered the work you do. I read a post recently which asked the followers of Donor Dudes to share their stories. Well, this is mine. I hope it helps.
If there’s anything I can do to expand the reach of your work toward furthering knowledge of the life-saving potential of organ donation, please consider me an ally.
Peace Steve Siddle