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“Donor’s are Hero’s, A New Life Begins” (now, with pictures)

Posted Apr 08 2013 1:10am

We have been asking for your story, in your words.  We have been honored with many responses, that I will post, as I have time to  format properly, etc.   We are enjoying  our success, but, more projects, than personnel, at times.  However, the delay in getting this posted resulted in it being posted during  ” Organ Donor Month”

Also, Debi, is the first such story from a person from whom I did not have any prior, personal interaction, on Facebook.  What I learned, and it scares me:  Even her best efforts, great attitude, and loving family could not prevent the inevitable, caused by smoking.  More important than what I learned, is the fact that Debi was given new life by the generosity of an anonymous person, and, courageous, at a time of great sorrow, family.

Thank you for sharing your story, Debi.  Keep up the great work, and attitude.  It is contagious.   You exhibit a lust for life, and, a wonderful example of how to “live with it.”

So.  To paraphrase Debi’s conclusion:   Do not miss a chance to be a hero.  You won’t know it, but, another family will.

Here is a link to learn about “Hero Registration.”


Be a Hero

“Donor’s are Hero’s, A New Life Begins”

“Yes, someone lost a loved one at this same miracle moment of my new life, but that loved one will forever continue to live within me.”  -Debi Castonguay




 I lived with my lung condition , COPD, for 12 years before I got to the point that my life was really not “living” but existing.    When first told I had COPD, at the age of 48, it was very soft spoken and  not a big deal to my Doctor.  I, on the other hand, had never heard of this and so the research began.   What I found out, COPD would one day take my life.   The first choice I had to make, was the nasty habit of smoking.  Took a few tries but finally I became a non-smoker.   Yes, the damage was done, but I could at least slow down my COPD.     I did great, for about 10 years.  Worked hard, ate healthy, and stayed active.  My health came to a blow with only one bout of the major flu bug. …. ended up ER… week later, turned into pneumonia .. This would now be my beginning of my end.
Life was so different now…
But, I guess I never realized how much. COPD is such a slow destroying disease that sometimes you don’t even notice the changes that are going on…. One day making the bed was not even a thought… soon, it was impossible to do alone… Making a Thanksgiving dinner was fun and full of laughter… now …I had to sit down every five minutes to catch my breath… even bending over to do laundry had become a chore.   I should have listened to my mother, when I was only 17.. “don’t smoke” !! Should have.. would have… could have !!
Transplant… It is a scary thought…
March 2012
The “transplant” was finally mentioned to me as a way to continue life.  ”Transplant” was a word I never wanted to hear.  But once it was said, it was too late to stop all the questions and the fear that remained with me.  My lung function was becoming worse as the months went on. The transplant was not on my agenda, and I told the Transplant Center that I was not ready… I felt good… I was living each day okay and could go about most of my daily routines.
Another cold, another ER visit, and soon I was visiting the ER every few months.
“Then came Friday, the 13th of  July…” Things that were simple, became hard.  No more running, stairs or dancing with my husband.  Now a new grandchild, that I could not even pick up or play with.   Life was now not as I had seen it becoming. My next ER visit, I had had enough.   I told the Doctors I could no longer take it.  I could not breathe without the use of oxygen …No more soccer games…no more walking in the park.. or even to the mailbox… I could not shop with my daughter.  I even had a “girls only” cruise that we had paid and planned for , for over a year, and I had to cancel because the doctor said it would be too risky to be so far away.  So now, add something else to my list, No more traveling!! I was tested for Transplant, which took about a week… every day something new to do at the medical center.   After the testing, I was presented to the board..  That same day the Transplant coordinator called me and said “you are on the list”.   I cried.   Test for joy or test for fear…. I guess both.
About two weeks later, I rec’d a call that said ” we have a offer for you” …
August, 2012
This meant that an organ had been found that matched my needs.  They said be ready, the final word will come within the hour.  Talk about anxiety!  But within minutes, the call came again that this was not the right one for me.   A little sad, but it did prepare me for the next call….. 8-8-2012 A few days later, and I am off to St Josephs Hospital, Phoenix, Arizona to begin my preparation for my double lung transplant.  This time I was ready…. This time I was even excited. Just thinking of what my life would be like with a new set of lungs… a new beginning ahead.  My family jumped with joy.. held hands and ran around in circles thanking God.
The next few days went by pretty fast… Surgery only lasted 5 hours… and each hour they would report to my “nervous” family that was waiting.  I awoke in the ICU with Family around me.. I smiled and held up my thumb..they all gave me a thumbs up as well.
 Donors are hero’s!
“Yes, someone lost a loved one at this same miracle moment of my new life, but that loved one will forever continue to live within me.”
I recovered very well, a little uncomfortable at first, but nothing unbearable.. and your mind is thinking, “look ahead to what this all means.. How wonderful will my life now be”, and I could only thank the beautiful choice of my un-known donor.   It has now been 8 months since that day.  I am doing wonderful.  I can run, jump and roll on the floor…. I can shop, I can swim and I can shop some more!!   Life is so much more the second time around!  I think that was a song from years ago!! Donor's are Hero's DSC02128 2012-08-23_06.51.20 2012-08-18_16.28.48 2012-08-18_15.44.06 2012-08-15_12.53.40 2012-08-10_17.36.58 2012-08-09_20.27.03 2012-08-009 2012-08-08_12.27.55 Donor's are Hero's
  Donors are hero’s!   BE A DONOR.   Stay active                 .. keep your Doctor appointments.. …                                                                                             and,  be aware of your surroundings for better health..
Be a Hero
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