The 24th of November, a date I will always remember. The day my life was saved for the first time, by a donor and their families selfless decision to donate their loved one’s organs.
I was eight when I received my first liver transplant, in Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Now, nine years on and two liver transplants later, I still always remember my first donor and donor family. Their gift meant my life didn’t stop at eight years old. It meant the beginning of a life long, life changing journey for me and those around me. That transplant, most of all, meant hope.
Today also happens to be Thanksgiving Day, which seems appropriate! I have so much to be thankful for, today and everyday. There would have been no second, or third transplant had I not received the first.
The thing is, I believe we can all find something to be thankful for. Be it your health, friends, family, a job, or simply being happy. And we all have something to give; friendship, support, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, a hug or a laugh. And we all have something more to give – life. Whether you give blood, bone marrow, or become an organ donor, we can all do something!
You know, I had no idea how much my life would be moulded by my transplants. I say it a lot, but they have not only saved my life, they have shaped my life. The opportunities I have, the way I think about life and my outlook and appreciation for everything that comes with life. I couldn’t imagine myself without this part of me. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing about what has happened to me. It has made me who I am, and given me the drive and motivation to do what I do.
The last nine years have been…amazing, difficult, exciting, emotional, interesting, busy and very different to a ‘normal’ 17 years old’s last nine years! Reflecting back on the those years is a strange thing to do. So much has changed, yet so much seems exactly the same. My desire to raise awareness of Organ Donation has only strengthened, my ambitions and goals have grown, my dreams have multiplied. As I continue to experience life in my own unique way, my mind is constantly opened to new experiences and I owe all of it to my donors – and the insurmountable gift they and their family gave me.
Nine years ago today, a total stranger gave me the chance to live. They gave me a 16th birthday, a chance to compete as a swimmer, celebrating 18th birthdays with friends, happiness. The gift they gave me means I can dream and work to achieve my goals and ambitions. It means late night chats with friends and family, it means laughing until we cry, it means everything life brings.
I will be forever thankful and humbled. Thank You, to my donors and all the other donors out there, and to all their families who give the greatest gift possible – life.
T H A N K Y O U <3
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