Friday, July 9, 2010
Today, my world revolved around transplant-and it was a good day!
I did a speech for CTDN at the main office in Oakland (right before the Grant/Meserly verdict!) about my transplant experience. It was so much fun. I feel like I really do actually help when I do this-by putting a face on a transplant patient.
Before I did my speech I met Gill, who has volunteered for 10 years with CTDN, and worked for them since December. I have heard of him-but never met him. He was such an inspiration and has an amazing story:
He is friends with an oncologist, who encouraged him to enter his blood into the blood marrow database-he did and a few years later they found a perfect match for a 19 year old boy with Leukemia! This was years ago when they took the marrow from your illiac crest-so you were either intubated or had a spinal block (epidural). Gill donated and the boy was CURED (but later succumbed to pneumonia). When he said that, he immediately focused on the part that this boy died, but I was like: "Gill, you helped cure someone!-If it wasn't for bacteria he would be alive!!! Without you, that might not have happened!" How amazing is that. I truly can't wait until my year is up and I can donate blood/plasma/whatever I can. Anyways, more on Gill (he has quite a story!) His son got a transplant when he was 16 years old, but it only lasted 4 years because of "electrical problems"-what the doctors said was an anomaly. But, Gill said those 4 years were great and his son did so well! Then, his other son suddenly died in a car accident. They were not able to contact the sons family quick enough to donate his organs, but they were able to donated his corneas to two people and skin/tissue to like 20 people! Amazing!
Anyways, it was finally time to share my story. I really need to write out my whole story and just get it out on paper, because I need to memorize it. I always feel like my brain is spaghetti and I am all over the place. But Katie and my Nana were there and said it was good, made sense, and was the right am mount of time.
After I did my speech, I met a surgical technician who helped harvest my heart (the guy with me in the picture above!) It was soo cool to meet someone who helped save my life and took care of something so precious to me before I could take care of it.
The best part of the day is how I am trying to inspire these people to keep on doing their job well, and they were so thankful that I was there to show them that their work had meaning. As I was finishing my speech, a guy was leaving to go harvest a heart, and just talked about how this really hit home.
After my speech, Gill told me the things that hit him. One of them was that he was an educator for the people who first brought out dopamine as a heart drug (it is related to L-dopa for Parkinson's). Wow, what a connection. He also helped save my life, dopamine is very complicated and risky and he laid the foundation for people to use the drug that kept me going when my body could not keep on. It was just an amazing day.
Then, my father took me to the Bay Area TRIO meeting. It was at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View-It looks like a Hilton hotel or something. It had someone playing a grand piano and then a marble staircase! The meeting was pretty good. I don't know if I will make my father go back, but I definitely like it as support. It kind of stunk that my first meeting was in the summer, so a lot of people were gone, but it looks like a good place to come for information, everyone was really nice, and they are the kind of people that genuinely care about how their fellow transplantees are doing. It felt good to be there and have people agree that some of the symptoms that I have had, they also had.
Anyways, it was also fun to just hang out with my dad after. I love getting to spend quality time with him.
What a good day!
Tomorrow another talk for CTDN at UC Berkeley, and Sunday I am working the CTDN both at the Run to the Lake. And Tuesday is the summer heart transplant picnic at Santa Clara, then Friday another UC Berkeley talk.