Living on...in the life of a recipient
(Editor’s note: The following letter was received by Rev. Randy Reese from the 56-year-old woman who received his son Dylan’s left lung through organ donation. It has been edited to protect the privacy of those concerned.)
Dearest Instruments of God,
There are no words…for breath, for life. There is no way to bring to your ears the fullness of all that is within my heart for what you have done. Yet, I would beg you to hear and listen to this feeble attempt to help you understand, in some way, the meaning of the gift you have given me and my family.
My name is Jean. And I have been the humble, unworthy recipient of a left lung, donated through love and the intentional decision to choose to provide hope, healing and life, through the gift of organ donation by your precious, cherished loved one.
At the age of 52, I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis on Nov. 1, 2007. It is a progressive, terminal disease that causes the lungs to scar, shrink and become unable to continue to support life. This disease claimed my father’s life when I was just 19. Unable to find any environmental or autoimmune reason why I should have this disease, it was believed that I had a genetic pre-disposition, and was given three to five years to live.
As anticipated, the disease progressed, until I was barely functional, depending on 15 liters of oxygen just to shower, ambulate and live. I am a single mother with four grown children – ages 22, 24, 26 and 28. They watched on as I became more and more unable to participate in life, and the quality of that life became poorer and poorer.
On March 31, at 6:15 a.m., we received a call that a set up lungs had become available and to come to the facility where I had been listed for transplant for almost 13 months. On Palm Sunday, I was given the gift of another life, literally, by your decision to choose sacrificially in love to bring this promise of hope to another…yes, to me.
For each profound gift of breath, I thank you. For the hope that I will again have the breath to laugh, which I have been unable to do for years for my pulmonary reserve hasn’t allowed me to take more than a superficial breath, I thank you. For the hope of being once again able to sing, to whistle, I thank you. For the freedom to walk out my door without the necessary pre-planning of how many oxygen tanks I would need to take with me to cover me safely for the time I would be away from my oxygen concentrator at home, I thank you. I could never, ever thank you enough.
Humbly, with deepest love,