Living and Breathing for Organ Donation - Double Lung Transplant Recipient Gives Her Time to Taylor's Gift

Photo: Tina with her medals at the 2014 Transplant Games of America

Tina_Rueles_Double_Lung_Transplant_Recipient_Donate_Life_Organ_Donation_Awareness_Transplant_Games_medalsDid you know that today is the last day of National Minority Donor Awareness Week?

As we work to help raise awareness for the need of organ donors in multicultural groups, we can’t imagine a better volunteer to say thank you to other than double lung transplant recipient, Tina Rueles! Tina is so full of life, so fired up for the cause of organ donation, and SO much fun! Getting to know her has been such a blast and we are thrilled to have her outgoing, funny, and ‘Outlive Yourself’ spirited self on our team.

Thank You Tina!

While she’s only had her transplant for a year and a half, you wouldn’t even know it. 

She recently participated in the 2014 Transplant Games of America and brought home THREE medals from the event!

Photo: Kim Bradshaw (Taylor's Gift Volunteer Coordinator) and Tina at the 2014 Disco Run

Tina_and_Kim_at_Taylors_Gift_Disco_RunTina, who is a newer addition to our volunteer team, began helping Taylor’s Gift Foundation at the Disco Run back in May. We loved having her as a part of the 4T Volleyball Tournament in June and we really hope that she will be joining us at our upcoming Golf Tournament at TopGolf on September 26.

Tina, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey! We are so thankful for your warm smiles and fun loving spirit. It’s incredible to hear all that you’ve gone through, and a joy to have you as a part of our lives.

From a Volunteer’s Perspective

Tina, Tell us a little bit about your journey!

Becoming a double lung transplant recipient has been an incredible journey. 20 years of making custom eyeglasses had taken it's toll on my lungs. I didn't wear a mask and my work area was not well ventilated. I ended up with not one, but two diagnoses, Mycobacterium Avium and Induced Hypersensitivity Pnuemonitus. Either one would've led me to a transplant--it seems I was destined to have one. At first I was given five years to live... then, just 10 months later, I was given only two years to live without a transplant.

After 10 months of pill cocktails, IV antibiotics, and finally inhaled antibiotics… we were able to get rid of the Mycobacterium. Once cleared of that mess, I was able to be added to the waiting list - February 1, 2013. Just 25 days later I received "the call" and on February 27, 2013 at 6:00 am, I went in for my life saving double lung transplant.

After just one week of recovering at UT Southwestern - St. Paul, I was off and running (ok, maybe not physically running since I'm not allowed to do that) from the hospital.

Since my transplant, I’ve worked to live every day to my fullest. Four months after my transplant I was able to take my youngest niece to Disneyland, I've had the once in a lifetime opportunity to witness my oldest niece graduate from high school (a year early with honors… I’m so proud of her), and I’ve been able to fulfill a promise I made to my mother before my transplant - to go zip lining with her! And most recently, I participated in the Transplant Games, where I won two silvers and a gold.

What brought you to volunteer with us?

I'd known a little bit of Taylor's story and noticed that Taylor’s Gift was having a Disco Run and needed volunteers. I've always wanted to give back for all I've been given, so I signed up to help and had a blast. I knew I needed to stay with this organization and help them with whatever I could. I love the way they give back to those who need help at their lowest moments, the world needs more of that. Everyone was so nice and wonderful, and fun to be around. It makes volunteering so easy. I already have a team together for next years Disco Run!

Get Involved and Take Action

Read 8 Helpful Facts About Minorities and Organ Donation


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