These are the stories of lives transformed through the heart-warming generosity of organ and tissue donation.
“I hope my donor is proud of the way I’m using my second chance at life.”
Through her teens and into her early twenties, Shelley Langille waited and wondered what her future would be – if she even had a future. Her kidneys were failing and her young life was being cut short.
Then she received word that a perfect stranger had made a promise to save her life.
Some time earlier, Shelley’s donor had had the foresight to check those all-important boxes on the Health Card form, and had committed to being an organ and tissue donor.
Shelley accepted the gift and has never forgotten how precious it was. In honour of her organ donor, she is living life to the fullest.
“An undergraduate degree, two masters, a career in education I love, and volunteering here in Nova Scotia and abroad…I hope my donor is proud of the way I am using my second chance at life.”
Shelly Langille, Truro, Nova Scotia
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The call came in the morning for my heart. I was surprisingly calm… not excited or anxious but calm. I never had any doubt about the success of the transplant. Life was going to be better one way or another for both me and my wife. At the hospital, there was excitement and jubilation among the staff during the workup prior to surgery.
When I woke up my first thought…my skin doesn’t feel tired. My wife said my feet were warm for the first time in years. Now years later, the way I see myself is a person who has choices, who doesn’t have a heart problem, who is not disabled and can give back to my family and the community in a productive way.
To my donor and family: Thank you! I will do my best to take care of this incredible gift you have given me. To potential donors: Donation is a very personal choice. Once the decision is made, tell your family so they can be comfortable with your choice.
What this has meant to me is that I can continue to be a productive, contributing member of my community. Through my work (I retired from 32 years in the federal government 2 years after the transplant), worked in politics for 7 years and now I am enjoying sales work nearer home) I truly believe I was able to help my community and my province in many ways by helping others.
On a personal level I have been able to see my two grandchildren grow, start school, spend time with them and last year at age 60. I learned to ski with them. Through my work I have been to Texas, Florida, Paris, England, Wales, Austria and Norway. My wife and I have enjoyed adding the last 9+ years to our anniversary count.
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To look at me you’d never know that just over a year ago I was fighting for my life, battling cystic fibrosis. That, just when I was at my worst, wondering how much time I had left; I received a phone call that led to my second chance at life. It was December 13, 2012; the day I received a double-lung transplant.
Every day I was at war with my lungs. Fighting for each breath; all my energy spent on breathing and little left for anything else. However, although the circumstances were serious, I didn’t waste any time feeling negative about my situation, instead my oxygen tank, wheelchair and I went out in the city and had a blast. I made many transplant friends and together we made incredible memories; “Transplantland” is an amazing and inspiring place.
I also drew strength from the support of my family, friends and hometown and shared (and continue to share) my story through my online blog “Live Laugh Lungs”.
I received the most selfless, priceless gift a person could give. Because someone made the decision to register as an organ donor, and have the discussion with their family, I am alive today. I don’t have words to describe my gratitude for those people. They are my heroes.
How can I possibly explain my life now? Today, I can finally envision a future. I am as healthy as I could ever dream of being. I am not attached to oxygen tubing, I no longer need a feeding tube, I don’t require a wheelchair, I don’t gasp for breath, coughing is no longer the background music to my life, and I don’t have to rely on others every day. CF and the transplant have given me incredible opportunities and experiences. Everyone has a story -this just happens to be mine.
As I know, and continue to meet, many others fighting CF and /or waiting for transplant, I advocate strongly for both. I ask people to have conversations about organ donation and think of the significance it has. I am living the miracle of organ donation.