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A Selfless Gift Grants New Life To Heart Transplant Recipient

Written by: Leslie Lentz

Our family’s lives were completely changed in April 2007 when my husband, at just thirty-one years old, was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure.  My husband was a former collegiate athlete and was in incredible shape. We would have never imagined that he would be diagnosed with heart failure and at the time, we did not know anything about heart disease.

I was five months pregnant with our second child and our oldest child was only five when he was diagnosed. The doctor came out, sat me down, and said to start preparing myself that he may not make it out of surgery. You can imagine how a pregnant woman with a five-year-old child might take this news, it was not a pretty sight.  Luckily, my husband made it out of surgery and we started a new and unknown phase in our lives.Our family’s lives were completely changed in April 2007 when my husband, at just thirty-one years old, was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure.  My husband was a former collegiate athlete and was in incredible shape. We would have never imagined that he would be diagnosed with heart failure and at the time, we did not know anything about heart disease.

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2016 Scholarship Recipient Story: Creating Change Starts With Taking The First Step

Written by: Brontae Williamson, 2016 Taylor's Gift Foundation Scholarship recipient presented by NIKE North America Merchandising and a freshman student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI.

We all desire to leave our mark on the world, but what does that really mean? To me, outliving yourself is about creating a future, not only for yourself, but for others. For me, outliving myself has meant being able to make a difference in the lives of those around me. Through my past experiences volunteering with teens at Vista Maria (a local shelter for abused teen girls); multiple animal shelters and food banks; and traveling to Germany on a foreign exchange program, I have learned that the short relationships I build with others can make a real-world impact. My volunteer experiences have inspired me to pursue a degree in Product Design, a field where I will dedicate my life to creating products that not only improve people’s way of life, but make a difference within communities and the environment.

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Giving Donor Families Hope And Help In Tragedy

 

Written by Noe Narro, Family Services Coordinator at Southwest Transplant Alliance

As a Family Service Coordinator for Southwest Transplant Alliance (STA), I am extremely thankful for Taylor’s Gift Foundation and the unique service they provide to our donor families through their Legacy Gift program. Each donor family I encounter means the world to me. We create a lasting bond as I assist them through a difficult time in their life, the loss of a loved one.  

During the time of a donor family’s grief, I determine what each family might need. Do they need additional grief support? Someone to just be beside them and listen? Do they have a place to stay while out of town or are they struggling to pay for unexpected expenses? My job is to be there for our families to help and guide them during their time of grief.

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How the Message of "Outlive Yourself" Inspired Me To Be A Leader

Written by: McKenna Lines, 2016 Taylor's Gift Foundation Scholarship recipient presented by NIKE North America Merchandising and a freshman student at the University of Oklahoma.

Last year when I wrote my essay application for Taylor’s Gift Scholarship, I focused on my “Outlive Myself” goal to always be a passionate leader.  To do this, I reflected on my past four years of high school and my leadership accomplishments.  These accomplishments were all very important to my involvement and successes in school and the community.  I took great pride in fulfilling my commitment to “Outlive Myself” during my high school years.

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Organ Donation Is The Answer

Written by Mary Allis Gracheck, a living kidney donor

My dad is an amazing man. He has supported and provided for his family, instilled within me a love of sports (even though I do not have an athletic bone in my body), and is a living example of how far hard work and determination will take you in life.

When my father was diagnosed with FSGS, a form of kidney disease, our family was thrown into a chaotic and confusing situation. A variety of questions continued to persist: What caused this? What are the effects? What do we do now? This journey has been challenging, but ultimately beautiful.

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Waiting With Hope: My Liver Transplant Story

Written by: Rhonda Fenske, Liver Transplant Recipient

I have a friend and his name is Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and Savior, and He is with me everywhere I go. He knows my every thought, need, and concern; moreover, He is my guiding light that leads my life. Sometimes, I have to wait for his answers, and sometimes, I am unsure of what His answers will be. However, He always knows what’s best for my life.

On May 1, 1971, I was diagnosed with a rare cholestatic liver disease called Alagille Syndrome. At that time, there were only thirteen cases in the world. Still today, Alagille Syndrome is considered to be very rare. With this disease, I had severe itching, jaundice, prominent facial characteristics, stunted growth and it affected my entire body. All the specialists at Rainbow Baby’s and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland Ohio addressed the medical issues as they occurred. However, my parents were told that I would likely not live to see up to or around 3 years of age. While the Lord knew His plans for my life, I had to wait for His answer. Living with Alagille Syndrome was never easy. I spent many months in and out of the Rainbow Babies And Children’s Hospital having to go through many surgeries. My parents spent many days and nights helping me deal with severe itching and scratching all over my body and to deal with the fatigue resulting from this disease. Taking short naps in grade school, was not an uncommon event for me and as I got older, my liver disease progressed. My eyes became more yellow, and my skin had a golden appearance as if I had a tan with very dry skin.

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Will You Make a Difference With Your 2017 New Year's Resolution?

Guest Writer: Christy Setzke

New Year’s Eve always comes with the inevitable question of, "What is your New Year’s Resolution?" This year, why not make a resolution to make a difference and become an organ donor?

As of the last week of December, there are 119, 390 people in need of a lifesaving organ transplant. From that number, 76,811 of those waiting are on the active list, which means the transplant candidate is eligible to be considered for organ offers. Some transplant candidates are temporarily classified as “inactive” by their transplant center because they are medically unsuitable for transplantation or need to complete other eligibility requirements.

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In Loving Memory of Patricia Winters: The Gift of Friendship and Taylor's Gift of Life

Note from Taylor's Gift Foundation: On December 19, 2013 we mourned the loss of a dear friend, and the recipient of Taylor's heart, Patricia Winters. In her memory we are honored to have the opportunity to share a touching story from her lifetime best friend, Debra. This is a blog post that was originally posted on December 18th, 2014.

Written By Debra Salac, Best Friend to Patricia Winters (Taylor's Heart Recipient)

Two teenage girls working in a small drugstore. That is how my friendship with Patricia Navarino-Winters began. We were 16 year old girls who, oddly enough, both drove Silver Datsun 210’s and bonded over the love we had for them. We pulled all-nighters eating Taco Bell and sharing the endless hopes and dreams we had for our lives. And mostly, we laughed.

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A Double-Lung Transplant Recipient On Living a Joyous Journey

Written by Nicole Brewer, Double-lung Transplant Recipient

(Note from Taylor's Gift Foundation: This blog post was originally posted on January 14th, 2016 on TaylorsGift.org/blog.)

I received a second chance at life on April 17, 2008, when I received a new pair of lungs. My story is a little ironic;  I was a collegiate soccer player who loved to continuously run up and down the soccer field, but life had a different plan for me, and it continues to be a journey of joyous unknowns. 

Like many transplant recipients, my husband and I have been on quite a journey! I’ll give a short synopsis of my disease and what led to having a double lung transplant and this second chance at life. But the thing is, this journey is not over. There are many unknowns. But there is an abundance of life and love.

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To the Mother of My Son's Organ Donor

Written by: Kate Harris, Originally posted on Today.com

When my son, let’s call him Mr. Snuggles (he’s the snuggliest little love bug you’ll ever know), was seven weeks old, he suffered several episodes of acute cardiac arrest before ending up on life support, and, eventually, a Berlin Heart pump.

We were told his heart would never function properly on its own again. He needed a transplant. He is our first child, so while navigating the maze of hormones and sleeplessness that is new motherhood, I was then faced with the fact that I might lose this brand new infant into which I had poured my very being. And no one knew why.

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