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Waiting For Transplant
Steven sadly died after a car accident on the 29th July 2000, he had carried a donor card for sometime and had spoken to his family about his wishes to donate his organs after his death. I was just one of four people lucky enough to receive one of his organs.
He was a painter and decorator, so Jan my wife, now thinks that this means I will be able to redecorate the whole house without any help (no chance).
Steven donated his heart, kidneys, pancreas and liver, saving two lives and considerably improving two other lives. What a great way to be remembered, my family and I will never forget this young man, and I have been really fortunate to met his Mum Lesley and his Sister Karen.
Lesley (Stevens mum) & me
I am now in a great position, that when ever I want to chat to my donors family or they want to chat to me, we can just give the other a call.
A few days after transplant I wrote a letter to my donors family. At that time I didn't know anything about my donor except they had saved my life, and I wanted to say thank you. Now I have met his family I feel I can share the letter with you. I hand wrote the letter, the cyclosporine was still making my hands shake and I had real problems trying to decide what to say and how to start. I won't tell you how many went in the bin, but this was what I sent.
How can I express how I feel about your gift to me,
Even now I can't read my own letter without a tear in my eyes, I must be getting soft in my old age. Well after passing the letter on to my transplant coordinator, she told me my donor was a 23year old male from London and his family had asked how I was doing. Even more tears I'm afraid, I just couldn't imagine how his family must be feeling at this time. I have four kids and just don't know how I would cope if one of them was to die.
Time went by, I went from strength to strength and wanted to write another letter to my donors family. But when would be the best time?? certainly not on the anniversary, I decided eight months was right. So what to say, more drafts in the bin and again I wanted to hand write the letter. It would be so much easier to do on the computer and print it. But I wanted to hand write it, well this was my second letter.
As with my first letter to you, I am not sure how to start or quite what to say. One of my biggest worries is to upset you in any way. I really can never thank you enough for your gift of life, and I also appreciate you asking my coordinator how I was during your time of great loss & sadness.
I do hope that the fact I am alive and well gives you some comfort, I would also like to tell you a bit about my family and myself, as I am not sure what you already know.
I am 38 years old, and it’s nearly 8 months since my transplant. So far I have done really well, with no problems at all. I am married with four children, and the youngest is now seven. If it had not been for your gift I would never have seen her seventh birthday. Now I am hoping to dance at her wedding, which is something I could never have dreamed of before.
I only became ill five years ago, due to a faulty aorta valve. Then after a valve replacement, my heart slowly became weak and I needed a transplant in order to survive.
As you might imagine, my donor and you their family have been in my thoughts daily. Although I am eternally appreciative of my new lease on life, my gratitude has been overshadowed by my heartfelt sorrow for the suffering of your family. I have accepted my gift with great responsibility and with the hope that I can make a positive difference in someone else's life like my donor has done for me.
God Bless and thank you
Yes more tears, but since meeting my donors family I am a lot more at ease. They are really lovely and as soon as I met them I felt as if I had known them for ages. Well there it is, I have shared much more with you on this website than I thought I ever would. I really do hope it helps.
26th October 2001
As you can see my donors mum Lesley came over to my house, and she stayed a few days. We get on really really well, stayed up till the early hours chatting and having one or two drinks. Lesley doesn't have a computer and one evening she sat down in my study and read some of the website, Lesley is now going to write a page of her own for the site.
My 40th Birthday Present
I can't even begin to tell you how that felt.
Lesley My Donor's Mum Tells Her Story
My last memory of my son Steven is hearing him yell, "Bye, Mum - I love you" as he rushed out to meet his friends one fateful summer night three years ago.
At 23, Steven was my rock - he'd stepped into the role of man of the house after I split up with his dad in 1987, helping me look after his 15-year-old brother Jake, who has cerebral palsy, and keeping an eye on his sister Karen, then 24.
Steven had only been gone 10 minutes when the phone rang - it was one of his mates from the garage where he worked as a mechanic. "Steven been in an accident..... it looks pretty bad," he stammered. Panicking, I jumped in my van to find him. I'd only gone a short way when I saw the ambulance and police cars.
Then I spotted Steven lying on the ground, surrounded by paramedics. I could tell by their faces that his condition didn't look good. Even as I gripped Steven's hand and whispered, "You'll be all right, son," I knew I was lying to myself - and to him.
Apparently Steven had been driving too fast. He had clipped the kerb and flipped the car - and because just once he wasn't wearing a seatbelt, he'd been thrown through the windscreen. All that night I prayed my son would pull through. But the next morning, I realised my prayers had been for nothing when the nurse told me to expect the worst.
"Steven's injuries are very serious," she explained. "I'm sorry, but his chances are slim."
That afternoon the doctor confirmed my worst fears - he told me Stevens brainstem wasn't dead yet, but it was only a matter of time. He explained that the brainstem was the part of the brain connected to the spinal cord, and without it all of Steven's vital functions would fail. I just kept thinking, "How can this happen to my Steven, my lovely, caring boy?" All I could do was mumble something about him wanting to be a donor.
We'd talked about organ donation before - I just never thought it would happen to him. Now, in the middle of this nightmare, I remembered what he had said: "When you're dead, Mum, you might as well help someone else."
Steven had been right, but now it made me sob to think of it. That night I held his hand and whispered, " I love you, son, but you're got to go now, my love." Even in the middle of my worst night of my life, I felt comforted by the idea that his death wouldn't be a waste. His heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas were all going to help people who were desperately ill.
Over the next few months I thought all the time about those people. It helped to get their letters of thanks and hear they were all doing well.
A year later, Karen was watching Gloria Hunniford's show on TV. This guy John came on, and after hearing how he had a transplant in July 2000, the night my son died, she realised it was Steven's heart he'd received. Karen rang the programme, and said tearfully, "I think the man you're just had on has my brother's heart. Please wish him all the best."
We never thought the programme makers would try to get us together. When they suggested it, I worried about having our first meeting televised in front of millions of viewers. But when I saw John, the hot lights and the stares of the audience didn't seem to matter. This man, with his kind eyes and a warm smile, had a living part of my son in him. When he came over and hugged me, I felt like I known him all my life. Without saying a word, I knew there was a unique bond between us.
We couldn't wait for the show to be over so that we could talk properly. That night we stayed up late chatting about our families and Steven. Sadly John Lost his mum before we met again two months later. I went to stay with him a few days afterwards. We'd both lost someone we loved and it helped John to be near someone who understood.
He asks me advise about his own kids and I'll say, "Steven was always doing stuff like that at his age." I'm so proud of the way John looks after his body. Last year I cheered him on as he ran the London Marathon, and he did it again this year too.
It was only because of my son that John was able to take part - but I don't even feel it's Steven heart any more. I've told John to think of it as his.
1.Take your drugs on time
2. No Stress
3.Exercise to the extreme
4. Enjoy your second chance at life
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