The Miracle of Life and Birthdays

Happy Birthday BalloonsIt was 35 years ago this past weekend that the world was blessed with a beautiful baby boy who happened to have Cystic Fibrosis (CF). The parents did not know how sick he was until he came down with pneumonia at 2 months old and sweat tests confirmed that their beautiful baby boy, Greg, was indeed very sick. Little did they know that the little bundle of joy they held in their hands would defy all medical logic and prove more than a few doctors wrong.

On August 9, 2009, my wonderful and loving husband, Greg, had his 35th birthday. Against all the natural laws of medicine, he is now a healthy man and successful Architect. The average life expectancy of 32.5 years old is now a distant memory and so are all the times doctors told him he would not live to see the very next day. So, what is his secret?

If you ask him how he defied all the odds, he will deny there is any secret to his longevity and great health. However, being his wife does allow me to some internal insight to exactly what makes Greg tick.

You see, he doesn’t think about his health at all. There are no negative emotions to his “expiration date” or any positive affirmations that keep him going from day to day. It is simply a matter of not thinking that he is different from anyone else. To him, he has the same risks of catching a cold or having organ failure (even though he is a 4.5-year double-lung transplant recipient). Sure, he follows the rules of taking his medications on time, wearing a mask when working out in the yard or staying out of the sun for long periods of time – but he does not put any emotion to this actions.

To watch him in his daily rituals is to be reminded of someone taking their vitamins and putting on rain boots when it is pour outside. These are the normal every day behaviors of you or I and yet we don’t think twice about performing them. It is just a routine – nothing more and nothing less.

On top of that, Greg has a theory on his transplant. To him, having an organ transplant is like trading one disease for another. He looks at his new lungs – not for the 11 years the doctors say he may get out of them – but rather as a bridge until scientists can grow him a new set of lungs, from his own tissue and without the CF gene.

He is not afraid to live life and make memories. Instead of fearing a flight in a tight plane for 8 hours on our way to our European destination, he wore a medical mask the entire flight. Did people stare? Sure! He didn’t care though and if someone asked, he would tell him or her the truth. What a great way to bring awareness to organ donation and enjoy a trip with his adoring wife!

Even before his transplant, he moved to a college out of state to learn to live on his own. He has two degrees, worked full-time while on IVs and has never listened to any doctor tell him that he cannot do something. All too often he has been told that he would not live and every time he proved them wrong.

So, what is his secret? Simply my friends – it is to live and not fear. Life is what you make of it and if you choose to become a victim of your circumstance then the fear will win and you will lose control of that which you hold most dear – life.

God bless his organ donor and their family for the miracle they have given us!

Happy Birthday Greg and many, many more!

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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