The most important thing I have learned is that people who make the decision to donate organs are the kindest and most generous people. There are no words that can adequately express the gratitude felt by recipients and their families for this most generous gift.
Living with chronic disease is no fun for anyone. Life becomes very restricted, you become dependant on others and you feel lousy most of the time. But this is how it is so you deal with it. You take each day as it comes and appreciate the good days and try to forget the bad ones.
To be told that you will be dependant upon a machine to keep you alive unless you receive a transplant is devastating. The thought that another family needs to lose someone they love and adore to enable you to live is just heartbreaking. Seems like a win-lose situation to me: my future good health vs their grief.
When I was told I would need a transplant, my aunt immediately volunteered to donate one of her kidneys. What a humbling experience. We were all aware of the risks involved and my concern was more for her future health than my own. It still amazes me that a person can be so selfless that they are willing to give a piece of their body to another in order to save that person's life. What makes my life so important that she should do this for me? Quite simply - she loves me. She cares deeply for my family. She doesn't want to see my family suffer any longer. She is a hero.
Our transplant took place in Melbourne in 2002 and what a difference it has made to my life. After the expected recovery period I was able to return to an active life: full time work, overseas travel, I even stayed awake all day and washed my own car. I felt the darkness of illness and depression lift from my world and I began to enjoy life once again. The feeling of freedom and independence is never sweeter once it is found after being lost.
My transplant experience has taught me some valuable lessons and made me a better person. Appreciate everyone in your life. Enjoy each moment. Don't stress over things you cannot change. Accept people for who they are. Be honest about your feelings. Accept help when you need it and give it to those who need it too. Enjoy life and be happy. I am.