Leah was 12 years old when she received the devastating news that, without a double-lung transplant, her father only had two years to live. Thankfully, an organ donor saved his life, giving a young girl what she wanted more than anything — time with her dad.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), runs in Leah’s family, and has claimed the lives of her aunt and grandmother. Her father, Don, had been diagnosed with COPD when he was 32, but managed to lead a relatively normal life for nearly two decades before things became dire. Leah will never forget the day her parents told her and her two older brothers Don’s health was rapidly declining and that a double-lung transplant was his only hope to live.
“I was so young at the time, and all I can remember is crying and praying that he would get a transplant soon,” recalled Leah.
Two months after Don was listed on the national transplant waiting list, Leah’s prayers were answered. Don received the gift of life thanks to new lungs from a donor, and the a lung disease characterized by chronic obstruction of lung airflow that interferes with normal breathing impact of the transplant reached far beyond returning Don to health. Thanks to that donor, Leah and her family were given the gift of time. Time to be with their dad for the everyday things as well as milestones, including watching all three of his children graduate.
Now 18, Leah feels her life has been forever changed for the better by her family’s donation and transplantation journey with her father. She has become an advocate for the cause and actively promotes registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor whenever she can. Leah has also found her calling through the experience — she has set her sights on a career helping others in need of a second chance at life as a transplant nurse practitioner.
“Our donor’s gift means everything to my father, to my family and to me,” Leah said. “Organ donation is one of the most beautiful things, and I will always be thankful.”