Semi-Happy Thanksgiving!

1st Transplant Dry Run
For those that already know me, the week of Thanksgiving is not something that settles well with my stomach. It is this time of year that people are remembering what they are thankful for and getting geared up for the winter holiday season. For me, it is quite different.

It was this day a few years ago that I came home from work to find my husband unable to move or even get to the bathroom without being in great pain. The following day he was to see his Cystic Fibrosis doctor for a regular appointment and didn’t see the need on seeking immediate medical help. Luckily for him, I knew medical attention was needed because the doctors told me shortly afterward that if we would have waited an extra day, he would have been dead. It was pneumonia and it was bad. So bad that he was put on a ventilator the night going into Thanksgiving day and I got to spend that “thankful” day in the MICU ward at our local hospital watching my husband fight to live.

After 4.5 weeks, he was transferred to the transplant hospital 2 hours away to be reviewed for a kidney transplant as well as a double lung transplant. Lucky for us, he was already on the transplant list for new lungs but his kidneys were now failing and they needed to assess if he was to receive both lungs and kidney from his hero donor down the line. He was placed on the list for both and after another 4.5 weeks of being in that hospital, I was able to get him home; ventilator, medical equipment and all!

For 9 months total he was on a ventilator and after a positive sleep study, they removed the ventilator and he was back to 4L of O2 by nasal cannula.

Although everything turned out fine in the end, and my husband has now been 3 years post transplant without any rejection, Thanksgiving was such a traumatic event that year that it still stays with me. I am truly thankful for my husband’s life, thankful to his donor and family, and thankful to God. The trauma of that time will stay with me for some time to come and it seems that although the butterflies in my stomach are lessening in number, they still remain. Hopefully one day I can truly celebrate Thanksgiving fully and go to Thanksgiving dinner at our family’s house without those butterflies tagging along.

After her husband received a double-lung (bilateral) transplant in 2004, Shannon founded the Angel Cove Organ Donation Awareness Shop, which provides awareness t-shirts and gifts products for transplant recipients, living organ donors and donor families - giving 100% of the profits to help heart and lung transplant recipients with medical costs. Shannon lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her wonderful husband and two chocolate Labrador Retrievers.

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