A Letter Of Thanks To The Long Hill Community - part 2
In early December, I became ill at home and Nancy called 911. Without hesitation, neighbors came to collect Alex and Tasha and see that they were cared for overnight. A Long Hill Township First Aid Squad ambulance, along with local police, arrived instantly at our house. I couldn’t have asked for a more professional team to rush me to Overlook Hospital in Summit.
There, in what would be the first of two times in two months (CORRECTION: weeks), doctors saved my life.
From Overlook, I was transferred to NYU, which required Nancy to make the long and costly daily trip into the city. It’s a tribute to her strength and character that she, and other members of our families, was able to juggle everything that life had handed her at that moment.
But, it’s no stretch to say she couldn’t have gotten through it without the support of friends, neighbors and the community at large. Our efforts throughout – and those of our neighbors – was to try to keep life as normal as possible for the kids while I was in the hospital.
A friend who owns a printing shop turned over his presses to us so that fliers about my search for a liver donor could be made. Impromptu fundraisers were held at the Community Center and the Millington Fire Station in conjunction with Santa’s visits.
Neighbors surprised us with an anonymous gift certificate for a Christmas tree and then were on hand to help get it into the house and decorate the porch.
With Nancy too busy to run the usual Christmastime errands, neighbors pitched in here, too, offering, against our insistence, to pick up the tab for some presents, too.
Blue and red magnetic car ribbons were made up to draw attention to my situation and promote the issue of fighting liver disease. Friends and neighbors devoted hours to selling them outside local businesses, while other shops graciously agreed to set up donation jars on their counters.
Prayer cards were printed and an unbroken circle of support grew throughout the township and beyond.
The Boy Scouts, of which Alex is a proud member, came by the house to sing Christmas carols one night. Strangers who live in the township have telephoned to share their encouraging stories of returning to a normal, thriving life after liver transplants.
My heart was lifted by Nancy’s visits, especially when she brought e-mails and photos from the neighbors and more so by well-wishing drawings from Alex, Tasha and Alex’s first grade classmates at Gillette School.
Someone came up with the brilliant idea of putting out a white tablecloth for local children to draw pictures and write encouraging, sometimes silly, messages on. This very moving, thoughtful gift now adorns our dining room table and not a day goes by when I don’t feel tears welling up when I look at it.
The Echoes-Sentinel played an important role, as any true community newspaper should, in both promoting my need for a liver and following up with the joyous news that I’m back home with a new lease on life.
To this day, the heart-warming assistance we’ve received hasn’t let up. A major fundraiser is in the planning stages; neighbors with snow shovels and snow blowers have cleared our walkways and thoughtful neighbors, often friends of friends of friends, are always turning up with a meal – never forgetting the cookies for dessert.
Nearly one-and-a-half months after my transplant, I’m delighted to say things are going as well as can be expected on the health front. I’m still a little tired and weak and limited in my range of activities.
I am well aware that I beat the odds in getting my liver transplant. The most common reason people with my condition don’t survive is the lack of available organs.
As of this writing, UNOS, the United Network For Organ Sharing, reports there are currently 87,291 people waiting for organ transplants. On Jan. 2, two weeks after I had my transplant, 17,313 people across the U.S. remained on the list awaiting livers.
Every 14 minutes a new name is added to the waiting list for organ transplants and every year, an estimated 6,000 people die waiting for organ transplants. (Information on becoming and organ donor can be found at www.sharenj.org and www.donatelife.net on the Internet.
I hope to return in mid-Spring to my job as a journalist analyzing the international oil market for Dow Jones Newswires in Jersey City. But in the meantime, it will be tough sledding.
Because of the length of my illness, I’ll soon be switching to long-term disability, meaning that my income will be limited to just 60 percent of my normal salary until I get back to work.
As my recovery continues, it is heartening for my family to know we continue to have the support of neighbors, friends and the community. And we look forward to the day when we can repay all of your kindnesses.
For now, we’re constantly reminded we’ve found not just the house of our dreams here in Millington, but our home as well.