On February 4, 2011, just got home from dialysis. Exhausted, I decided to watch some TV with my daughter before heading to bed. The show ends and I was heading to bed. As I get into the bedroom, the phone rang, but I wasn’t able to answer on time, so I called back right away. My heart starts racing. It was the hospital. There was a kidney available and it was a match. My life was about to change forever.
I suffered from high blood pressure for many years and it started to take a toll on my body. In 2009, my kidneys were failing and I began dialysis three times a week. I sat in a chair for 3 and half hours each day while a machine did the work my kidneys were unable to do. Before my kidneys failed, I was a very active soccer player and used to run on regular basis.
I remember my daughter took me to UMC Las Vegas where I received a Gift of Life on the morning of February 5th, 2011. After the surgery, family and friends filled my room. Between visits, I did the best to catch a glimpse of my Pittsburgh Steelers playing in the Super Bowl. I remember I didn’t catch much of the game, but it was a sacrifice well worth making.
The recovery process was long and painful. I was in pain for weeks but took it one step at a time. Several months after surgery, I was feeling healthy and ready to climb mountains, both literally and figuratively. I headed out to Red Rock to enjoy the view and my new lease on life. And I haven’t stopped since. Now 6 and a half years later, I frequently hike at Red Rock, and some other mountains around, including Wheeler Peak, second highest peak in Nevada and 3 high peaks in California, including Mount Whitney. I love to stay in shape to take great care of my new kidney and the rest of my body, and most important, honoring my donor angel who said Yes to organ donation and saved my life.
Right after my first anniversary, I joined Nevada Donor Network as a volunteer, and since then I haven’t stopped being the voice for organ donation. Wherever there is an opportunity to spread the voice, even on media, TV, Radio, and paper to inform and help people to sign up to be an organ donor, I am there.
Though it was a difficult journey, before my transplant and my recovery time, I never lost hope. 3 years after my transplant, I attended my first Transplant games at Houston, I competed in 8 events, getting 6 medals. The following year, I was planning to attend my first World transplant games in Argentina, but just a few weeks before, I hiked Mount Whitney, sadly, after that hike, I got sick and had to cancel that trip. In 2016 I attended my second Transplant Games of America in Cleveland, this time I competed in 13 events, getting 12 medals, 8 gold, 3 silver and one bronze.
Back in June this year, I finally was able to attend the World Transplant Games at Malaga Spain, representing Team USA, I will compete in Track and Field, just like the previous games. Knowing the competitions won’t be easy, I was able to bring home Gold in Javelin and silver in long jump. Right now I went back to hiking, training for the 2018 Transplant Games of America, attending some events as a volunteer, and taking pictures, since photography is one of my favorites hobbies. I also started painting just 3 weeks ago, and just finished my 3rd painting, second original. I was inspired by the time my kidneys failed back in 2009, and probably I will donate to the hospital where I received my transplant or any other organ donation/transplant organization.
I just hope my second chance last long time so I can keep giving a little bit back to the community to raise awareness about organ donation…because organ donation saves lives!!