Janet Marshall is the editor of The Free Lance-Star's Healthy Living section and Healthy Life Virginia newsletter. She thinks most things are fine in moderation.
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A donor recipient’s gratitude
Healthy living columnist Delise Dickard struck a chord Sunday with her piece on the psychological obstacles to becoming an organ donor.
A reader in West Africa—an American who works there for Boston University—wrote in to share her experiences as a donor recipient. She hopes—as Dickard hopes—that more people will sign up to become organ donors.
In her email, Sue Rosenfeld wrote that she found the column through a website devoted to people with the liver condition she was diagnosed with (PBS, or Primary Biliary Cirrhosis.) Moved by what she read, Rosenfeld sent a note about her own experience.
“Next week I will celebrate the 8th anniversary of my liver transplant, which we who have had liver transplants call our ‘re-birthday’ or ‘renaissance,’” Rosenfeld wrote.
“I never met or had contact with the family of my donor, but I think about my donor and her family everyday,” she continued. “ I know that I am one of the lucky ones.”
Rosenfeld said she has lived and worked abroad for years, serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, teaching English in Burundi and now serving as resident director of Boston University in Niger.
“I live in West Africa, in one of the countries that the United Nations Development Index classifies as one of the least developed countries in the world,” Rosenfeld said. “No way I could be diagnosed here.”
So she came back to the U.S. to find out what was wrong. By the time she was diagnosed, “I was in stage IV and immediately had to move back to the USA and jump through the many hoops required to get approved to be on a liver waiting list,” Rosenfeld wrote.
“I was lucky in that I qualified to get on the list and then was lucky again to have a wait of only 1 year, 5 days, before I got the ‘gift of life.’”
Now 62, Rosenfeld said she is so grateful for her new liver.
“Here I am, still kicking, and back in West Africa, doing what I love to do, where I love to do it, all because someone I never met checked ‘yes’ on the organ donor card.”
As Dickard wrote in her column, the majority of Americans don’t sign up to be donors—often because of myths and misunderstandings about the organ donation process. To read her column, which was inspired by her sister’s diagnosis with a liver disease, click here.