Looking back on the first year of my new life



Today’s my birthday. Well, in a way it’s my birthday, because it was one year ago today, Sept. 6, I received my liver transplant.

I guess you could say I have two birthdays – the day my mother gave birth to me and the day a stranger gave me a gift which saved my life.

As I thought about writing this column, I considered making it a progress report on my health. But I’m doing just fine. I feel great, I am enjoying life and I’ve adjusted pretty well to my new normal. So really, what more can I say about me? Life is good, again.

Every day I think about the reason I am still alive and living this healthier life. It is because of an anonymous person who gave me their liver when they lost their own life. When I was thinking about writing this, that person was who I kept envisioning. So I decided this column should be about him…or her.

The problem is, I know absolutely nothing about my donor. I don’t know if they are a man or woman. I don’t know how they lived. I don’t know how they died. At times it’s frustrating to know nothing about the person who made it possible for you to go on living, but over the course of this past year I’ve learned to accept it.

I wrote a letter to his/her family several months ago. At the time I hoped I would hear something back. In my letter I told them how I was doing and I thanked them for this gift – something I cannot possibly repay. In the end, I didn’t hear back from the donor’s family, which is their prerogative. Perhaps someday they will write, but I’ve accepted the possibility they never will.

If I could say something to them, I would tell them I am deeply sorry for their loss. At times I feel guilty because I’m still here and their loved one is not. I would say how thankful I am for the gift I was given and how I live each day knowing I am here because of their father, mother, brother or sister. I will see my son graduate high school and my daughter finish college. I will get to see my grandchildren someday and watch them grow up. I will spend many years with my girlfriend and we will keep building our life together. These are all things I would have never experienced if it had not been for my donor.

While it would be nice to know more about this person, I respect their family’s reasons for not responding to my letter. I just hope they know the decision to give the Gift of Life is possibly one of the greatest gifts someone can give.

I urge anyone who isn’t already a donor to register and give that gift so maybe someday, in the worst of times, you can help someone else in need. It only takes a few short minutes to register and it is truly time well spent.

To register as an organ donor, visit giftoflifemichigan.org.

Gary Gould is the managing editor of View Newspapers. Contact him at 810- 452-2650 or email ggould@mihomepaper.com.

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