There are all kinds of second chances IN life. We frequently hear stories about people overcoming something and getting another try. But how about getting a second chance FOR life? Transplant surgeries are giving patients just that every day. My name is Steve Baum and I’m one of those people… I needed a second chance.
I was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease in 1986. Years later in 2008 doctors determined I also had Polycystic Liver Disease with massive enlargement. These are genetic conditions in which cysts develop in the kidney and liver. There is no cure. It took a while for me to get the PLD diagnosis, but I eventually was referred to UAB for evaluation and placement on the national waiting list.
While I waited on the list I continued to work as much as I could. Some
days were spent curled up in a fetal position. I had little appetite because of the organ size and displacement. Any calories I consumed went to feed the cysts. My arms and legs became skin and bone. I looked like Mr. Potato Head, or maybe a scarecrow carrying a watermelon gives you a better idea. During this time, I found strength through my wife and family; my faith in God; and my church.
Today there is such a great need for organs. Some patients wait years. Considering my rare blood type, B+, I potentially could have waited a long time. I was very fortunate to only wait 10 months for a liver and simultaneously received a kidney on November 11th, 2009!
Organ donation gave me my entire life back. My recovery was uneventful, and my energy returned quickly. My second chance means I returned to work and went back to doing things I love like singing, writing and social activities. A second chance allowed me to compete and medal in the Tennessee Senior Olympics and be voted “Most Inspirational Athlete.” I competed in the US Transplant Games of America just nine months post-transplant. I’ve also done a couple of half-marathons, one triathlon and hiked up two Colorado 14er’s since transplant.
Today, I actively volunteer and recruit people to sign up to be organ & tissue donors. Ultimately, I would like to sign 1000 new donors. I’m somewhere short of 500 now. If my story moved you and you have not registered to be a donor, I hope you will contact me at https://stevebaum.org #DonateLifeMonth #BeTheGift