How do you ever adequately thank a family for for saving your loved one’s life…when the cost was the life of one of their loved ones? It’s been five years in the making, but Kristin has finally put down in words what she’s been feeling about her dad’s organ transplant in a letter to the family of the donor who gifted a life-saving liver.
If you’re moved to become an organ donor, it’s as easy as registering. You could not only save a life, but you could could save LIVES.
“Dear Donor Family,I’ve been staring at this blank page for days with no idea how to start. No idea how to adequately convey what you’ve done for my family and me. Truth be told, I’ve been wanting to write this letter to you for 5 years. How is it humanly possible to thank another for the gift of life? Well, I’m going to try my best. I wanted to tell you a little bit about our story, and the role you played in it.My name is Kristin. My father’s name is Jim. Right out of high school, my dad was drafted and he spent 1 1/2 years serving in Vietnam. His body was subjected to Agent Orange. Having the universal blood type, he would be directly connected to wounded comrades for blood transfusions. This is where we think he contracted Hepatitis. Hepatitis that went undetected for years, slowly destroying his liver. It wasn’t until 2000 when we found out my dad needed a new liver because his was failing.For almost 11 years he stayed on the inactive transplant list, but in December of 2010 he became extremely ill…to the point I thought this was it. But he miraculously pulled through, and on Feb 2nd, he was placed on the active transplant list.We waited on pins and needles, knowing the wait could be long, that it could be excruciating. But astonishingly, just 13 days later, he got the call. They had a liver. It was a match.I was living in Raleigh, NC at the time. I’ll never forget the moment my dad called and said those words we had been waiting to hear for over 10 years, “Keke, they have a liver.”It was the middle of the afternoon on February 15th, 2011. I quickly got off the phone so I could book my flight to Tampa, where he was having the surgery. Before I could gather my thoughts, let alone my things, I fell to my knees in my bedroom and I wept tears of joy. That turned to tears of fear. That turned to tears of sadness. Sadness for the family I did not know, who had just lost a loved one, that would save my loved one.My next recollection is pulling up to Tampa General late at night in a taxi. I wheeled my luggage into the waiting room where my dad’s sweetheart was waiting. She told me they had already wheeled him back for surgery. I had just missed him.We were in the waiting room all night. After what seemed like an eternity, the surgeon came in and told us the news. The transplant was a success. It’s one of the most pivotal moments in our lives.Seeing him in the ICU for the first time, he already looked better. He was no longer yellow from jaundice. He took forever, but he finally woke from anesthesia, and in that moment, I knew he was going to be OK.That’s when it sunk in. My dad was alive, but another family had just experienced unimaginable loss and grief. I am so very sorry. Those are the two phrases I just can’t say enough. I’m sorry and thank you.Because your loved one chose to be a organ donor, my dad’s life was saved. We now get to celebrate not one, but two birthdays. His actual birthday, and his reborn birthday, February 15th.Jim is a doting father to his two children. He became a grandpa for the first time 3 years ago. Harper and Liam love their pap. He never would have been able to meet them, if it wasn’t for you. He’s a man that exudes positivity and spread his joy and laughter every day. And boy does he have an infectious laugh. Everybody want to play golf with Jimmy because he has the best jokes, and nobody laughs harder at his jokes than him.He’s a good man. And he’s been integral in making me the woman I am today. For the past 5 years I’ve especially cherished our time together, because I know those years came at a cost.If you are comfortable with sharing your memories of the person who saved my dad’s life, I would love to know more. I already know they’re an organ donor, a hero, an angel.My dad and I share a common love, and that’s The Beatles. He introduced me to them when I was a teenager, and it’s a special bond he and I have shared for over 20 years. It only seemed fitting to end my letter to you with this.“In my life I loved you more.”With my eternal gratitude,Kristin”