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Extraordinary Stories

Image of Donate Life Sign-up ButtonPhotograph of Peggy Marston, Recipient and daughter Ellie Marston

Peggy Marston, Portland Maine
Heart Recipient 2011

I was diagnosed with an enlarged heart, or Cardiomyopathy,  in 1996, just weeks after becoming a new mother.  My condition was discovered when I suffered a stroke, the result of an undiscovered blood clotting disorder, which was also probably the cause of my heart damage.

For 15 years I experienced numorous hospitalizations, surgeries and complications.  I was placed on a transplant list in January 2010.  I became so sick that I was hospitalized and could not go home until I received a matching heart.  I waited for 7 months in the hospital. There were many days where we feared that a heart would not come in time. Since we lived two hours away, my husband and daughter could only visit me on weekends, when they stayed overnight with me.  If they couldn't come, then my brother would travel over 3 hours to spend the weekend.  

I finally received a heart in June 2011.  

I am so thankful to be home!  I love being able to take care of my family and visit with my friends. I excercise and get stronger every day.  Having missed almost a whole year of my daughter's school, I take great pleasure in attending her violin concerts and sports events.  This spring I will begin taking classes toward getting my masters degree.  I am so incredibly grateful to the donor who saved my life and returned me to my family.          

 

 

 

Eric Harrison, Kennebunk Maine
Kidney/Liver Recipient 2006

Photo of Eric Harrison, Recipient
I started on dialysis in April 2005 due to acute renal failure caused by a rare metabolic condition called Primary Hyperoxalosis-1. This same disease had taken the life of my oldest brother, Steve, in Dec. of 2003 while he was on dialysis. From the time of Steve’s passing to my illness, my large family- six other living siblings and many nieces and nephews - also lost our loving parents, Fran and Frank. Steve lasted 30 months on dialysis so my prognosis without a transplant was not good.

In July of 2006, I got the call that saved my life. I received a liver and kidney transplant at Massachusetts General Hospital. Because of this amazing gift of life from my anonymous donor, I have been blessed with the opportunity of living life again. Since the transplant, I have been able to do the things I love and to share them with the people I love.

I’ve gotten to see my nieces and nephews grow up. I’ve been able to share Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings with my family. I have gone scuba diving again and enjoyed the beauty and mystery of the ocean. I’ve competed and medaled in many Transplant Games here in the U.S., Canada and Finland. I have been honored to serve my community as a Firefighter again and to help my brother and friends start a new successful business selling fire and safety equipment.

There are hundreds of other things I have been able to do that I don’t have room to list here….. But the most important of all is to remember each and every beautiful day the gift of life made possible by my Donor and his Family. I am forever grateful.



 


 

Amy Dumond, Bangor Maine
Double Lung Recipient 2004Photograph of Amy Dumond, Recipient

"I don’t even think this is possible," I heard one of the surgeons say.  "It is too risky."

The room was silent, as I felt tears fill my eyes, knowing this was the end of the line for me.  Suddenly, a quiet voice broke the silence.  "I think I can do this,"  I lifted my eyes to meet those of Dr. Gosta Pettersson, pleading with him to give me this one last chance at life. 

"If you get me the lungs, and get me to the table, you let me take care of the rest," our gazes locked as he stated the words that still ring in my ears today- "I’m going to hold you to that."

3 months and 400 units of blood later, I was officially on the mend. 

Nearly 8 years later, there are still no words to describe the ordeal, and I’ve learned to stop trying.  It’s more important to focus on where I’m going than it is to focus on where I’ve been.

One 14 year old girl from a generous family gave me a second chance to life- the only stipulation to this chance was that I do just that- LIVE.

And, live I have-  I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a variety of experience, and a job I adore.  I am a proud volunteer for the New England Organ Bank, and do my best to provide support to those who are facing a transplant.  In addition, I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Northern New England Blood Services division of the American Red Cross- and proudly donated my first ever pint of blood recently in honor of the 400+ donors whose life saving blood was transfused during my surgery.

Most importantly, though, I ride.  I ride any day that I can, every chance that I get.  From my life long passion for horses, I have created my own business, offering Equine Assisted Psycho- Therapy to children, adults and families.  With the help of my beloved Standardbred gelding, Speedie, I have found my place in life.  Thanks to a 14 year old girl, I have a life in which to have a place.

Rest in peace, Jensyn- thank you.

 

 


Andrew Campbell - Portland, Maine
Organ Donor - 2007

Photograph of Andrew Campbell, Organ Donor


In February of 2007 my 22yr old son, Andrew signed up through the DMV to be an organ donor.  I remember how proud he was to have done that as he showed me the red little heart on his driver’s license.  Neither of us knew on that day he would give life to four complete strangers.

In June of 2007 Andrew suffered a severe head injury, from which there would be no chance of recovery.  My worst nightmare had come true, I was losing a child.  While he was on life support I was approached by a New England Organ Bank transplant coordinator and reminded of the promise that Andrew had made that past February.  Knowing his wishes made that moment so much easier.  It was his choice, not mine, and he had already made it.

Andrews smile lit up every room he entered, he was a guy whose zest for life was unmatched.  He was a man who would give you whatever you needed, whenever you needed it.  I know that he would be proud that in the end he gave life to those in need.  His heart, liver and both kidneys were donated to four people who otherwise may not have lived.  My other children and I had the opportunity to meet his heart recipient and to listen to Andrews heart beat again, while it gave life to another.  I cannot put into words how much that meant to us.

Submitted by Andrew’s mother Patti Campbell

 

 

 




Robert Knox, Augusta, MainePhotograph of Robert Knox, Recipient

Kidney Transplant - 2003
Pancreas Transplant - 2004


Diabetic since his early 20's, Robert Knox of Augusta needed a kidney transplant.  He was receiving dialysis treatments three times a week with little success.  Fortunately he received a life-saving kidney transplant in 2003.  No longer needing dialysis, Rob was able to focus on enjoying life with his wife and their dogs.  No more days of debilitating sickness. 

In 2004 he received a pancreas transplant which immediately ended his need for insulin injections.  For the first time in years he was able to live life spontaneously.  No more worrying about diabetics lows or highs.  No more carrying snacks, meters and needles. 

Since his transplants Rob has attended the US Transplant Games in Minneapolis, Louisville and Pittsburgh; volunteered with the New England Organ Bank, the National Kidney Foundation and Leonbergers in Need Rescue; and has traveled to California to visit family and attend the Highland Games. 

Not a day goes by that Rob and his family don't think about the gift of life they received because of the generosity of others.

 

 


Michael Brown, Portland, Maine
Heart Recipient 2007

Photograph of Michael Brown, Recipient


I am now 40 years old and am a heart transplant survivor of almost 3 years. I received my transplant in July 2007.  I am a single dad and my son is now 10. He was 7 when I received my transplant.  I suffered with cardiomyopathy since 1992 then congestive heart failure (CHF) from 1997-07.  

I was on the heart transplant list for 1 and a half years after having life saving surgery to implant a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) which did the work for my heart.  On July 12, 2007 came the phone call of my life, the one that saved my life.  A donor heart had become available. 

The donor was registered with the Maine BMV as a transplant donor. That little emblem on the driver's license is what triggered a series of events that set in motion a lot of things to save several lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Image of Donate Life Maine logoDonate Life Group

The above photo taken at the State House in Augusta on March 1, 2011, included the sponsor of LD 435 "An Act To Improve the Rate of Organ and Tissue Donation by Establishing the Organ Donation Advisory Council." Senator Langley (far left) and several pictured individuals provided testimony in support of the bill that was before the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services. The committee voted unanimously in support of the bill.

 

Organ and Tissue Donation, Saves Lives please become a donor today!!!!