Thanksgiving 2014

Five years ago on 11/11/09 I received the Gift of Life in a liver and kidney transplant. We have never met my donor’s family and have not yet received a response to earlier letters. This year, on the fifth anniversary of their loved one’s passing, we hope they may be ready. Here is what I sent to them through the Organ Center:

Good morning,

We hope this letter reaches you and your family in good health and a blessed holiday season!

We have a life connection: your family and mine. One that caused your family the greatest hurt but gave my family and me the greatest hope. It happened five years ago…

I was dying. One of those long, slow chronic illnesses that runs in families and ours goes for the kidneys first and starts crushing them with cysts from the outside before choking them off from the inside. In my case the liver was predisposed for this, too, and it began to grow, covered with cysts the size of oranges, then softballs, and then grapefruits. In time it was going to cut off all those things the body needs to stay alive: eating, swallowing, breathing. And there was only one way to stop it…it had to be replaced.

Your son, brother, husband, father was in a horrible accident on that November day and there was nothing the doctors could do. You made the decision to try to save lives, and his liver and a kidney were given to me.

We don’t know the details and don’t need to but, with your permission, I’d like to know your loved one’s, my donor’s, name. We would like to meet you. And I wish I could tell him, and you, everything that has happened as a result of your generosity and sacrifice.

I could tell you that receiving that gift of life allowed me to live with my loved ones in a way we thought might not be possible. It allowed me to get up and get out and be a husband, a father, a grandfather longer than we had hoped.

There isn’t enough space to share all the things I’ve tried to do to show my thanks, make it right, and pay it forward. Just know that my wife and I hope our efforts and speeches, walks and donor sign-up tables, and even sports successes and personal testimony may help to make some other families know hope and receive the gift of life, too.

But nothing that I can do, until the end, can match both the sorrow you have felt and the generosity you have shown to saves the lives, like mine, that were running out of time but never hope or faith.

My family and I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving and want you to know we think about you, and say thanks to you too, at every Thanksgiving we can share together now.

Thank you and God bless you.

To register to be an organ donor go to or register where you receive or renew your driver’s license. Remember you must renew your organ donor registration each time you renew your license.

1 Comment

  1. David Chamberlin says:

    Beautiful, Steve. Just beautiful. Thanks be to God. –David C.

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