On Sunday, November 21st we hosted a donor family gathering in Fargo, North Dakota to honor and remember organ and tissue donors and their families. One of the speakers at the event was a lung recipient named Paul Leintz. Paul has graciously shared his transplant story, which you can read in its entirety here.
I want to pull out a couple of paragraphs though. This one is where he talks about how he’s feeling today and the opportunity he had to meet his donor’s family and learn about the young man who saved his life.
Now we are nearing 2011, and I am going into my 9th year post transplant, and I feel as good as ever! The one thing, leading up to the transplant, that always saddened me was that someone had to die, for me to live. From day one, after the transplant, I always wanted to say, “Thank you” to the family that I received the lungs from, but I knew that they needed time to grieve. I was so happy to get notified from Life Source that the family wanted to meet me. I jumped at that in a heartbeat. So, during one of my trips to Minneapolis for a check up, we arranged to meet the family. Talk about another highlight of the transplant experience. I met Audre and the rest of the family, and told me about my donor, Jesse. I was so happy to learn more about him, and who he was. One of my favorite moments of the meeting was when Jesse’s mom, Audre, came to me with a stethoscope, and asked if she could listen to Jesse’s lungs. How could I say no? With great pleasure, I said, “Go ahead.” I could see how happy she was to hear her Jesse breathing in and out inside of me. As they say in the commercials, that was “priceless!”
I also want to share this section with you, where Paul talks about what it was like to share his story with the donor family members who were gathered together on the 21st to remember and honor their loved ones.
…I had the honor of speaking to a group of people who lost relatives, and had their organs, and tissues, donated. As I was talking to the group, I could see the pain in their eyes, and could feel the love that they had for those that they had lost. So much so, that at times, I became a little emotional talking to them. One thing that I wanted to assure them was that the loved ones they had lost, are still living in us living a better better life because of them. Another thing that I wanted to tell them, was how important it was for them to reach out to the recipients, and tell them about their loved ones. I consider Audre, and her family a part of my family too, and I look forward to telling Jesse “thank you” one day too.
Thank you, Paul, for sharing your story and for being such a wonderful advocate for organ and tissue donation! We wish you many, many more years of good health.