Thursday, May 26, 2005

There Is No Other Day Like Today...

There is no other day
like today
the 26th of May
There's nothing more than I can say

On this day 7 years ago, Alexander was born. Three years later, the same day, came Natasha.

Nancy are I were blessed on the 26th of May, like we were no other day, yet we feel blessed every day.

Our thought-for-the-day calendar, as ever, says it better than I could. Today's entry:

Thank you for revealing Yourself to me, O God. Amen.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Wonderful Tale From Long Island Liver Walk...

Folks - Thanks to Heide, webmistress supreme, for sending along from today's Newsday this wonderful tale from Sunday's Long Island Liver Walk, the first of three New York area fundraisers for liver disesase research.

As posted here, I'll be participating in the New York City Liver Walk on Sunday
June 5 at Riverside Park and in the New Jersey Liver Walk in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, on Sunday June 12.

Contributions to my fundraising effort can be made on-line at this address:

I'm proud to say that with a whopping $325 in donations in just the past two days we're now at $1,875 or 63% of my $3,000 target. Thanks to all who have contributed and a special thanks to those who forwarded our donation link to others. Please continue to spread the word.

As if we needed any further incentive to help the cause, consider this inspiring story...

Father gives son new hope

May 23, 2005

Toddler Jack Morea has his father's brown eyes, his ears and chin.
After an operation as an infant to stop the boy's organs from failing, the
2-year- old of Massapequa also has a piece of his dad's liver.

"I wasn't thinking about the surgery and being on the table," Jack's
father, Dominic "Dom" Morea, said of the liver transplant performed at
Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York. "You go into a place where
you want to just help your kid."

Morea and his wife, Michelle, and their three children, including Jack,
were among more than 400 supporters who gathered yesterday at
Eisenhower Park for the 2005 Liver Walk sponsored by the American Liver
Foundation's New York chapter. The three-mile walk raised donations for liver
disease research and awareness.

Kicking rocks on a soggy field at the East Meadow park, Jack ignored
instructions to play near his parents. The rosy-cheeked youngster looks
nothing like he did at 5 weeks old. Then, he was scrawny, with yellow
skin and eyes.

"He was abnormally jaundiced," Michelle Morea said. "When it got to the
point that we knew what it was, he was glowing."

Jack suffered from biliary atresia, which kept him from properly
ridding bile from his liver. The disease, for which the cause is unknown,
affects only newborns and occurs in about one in every 15,000 births
annually. The malady can cause scar tissue and ultimately liver failure and

After surgery failed for Jack, the family prepared for a living organ
transplant. His father was deemed a suitable donor in part because he
shared the same Type O blood as Jack.

On April 8, 2003, doctors removed a third of Dominic Morea's liver and
placed it in Jack, then 8 months old.

"It felt like I was socked in the stomach," Michelle Morea said,
recalling that day. "The doctors took my husband one way and my baby the
other, but I believed what we were doing was good and I was at peace."

Dominic Morea's surgery lasted about two hours. Doctors then spent
eight hours operating on Jack. The procedure was one of 510 performed in
New York that year, according to Richmond, Va.-based United Network for
Organ Sharing.

Months after the surgery, Jack grew stronger. He now spends most of his
time playing T-ball and riding his tricycle outside the family's home.

With a new liver, Jack no longer has to take 21 doses of various
medications every day. Instead, he uses only one prescription - which he'll
need to take for life - to help his body fight against rejecting the
liver, Michelle Morea said.

Dominic Morea, who has fully recovered from the surgery, said he
couldn't have wished for a better situation. "The blessing for us is that we
didn't have to put him on a list and wait," he added.

At the park, Jack played with his brother, Carlo, 5, and sister, Catie,
7, as everyone approached the starting line. Jack pouted when he was
told he would have to ride in a stroller for most of the walk.

"He's the most mischievous of my three kids," Michelle Morea said.

Copyright (c) 2005, Newsday, Inc.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Five Months On...Nearly Half Way There...

Folks - It's five months today that I was blessed with the life-saving gift of my liver transplant. I celebrated by taking a day of rest after a 7-mile walk on Wednesday through local glorious greenery. Won't be resting long, though, as the effort to help others in the liver-disease/transplant community continues. I'll be back training tomorrow for the upcoming fund-raising walks.

I learned today, too, that in just 16 days since the announcement of my participating in the American Liver Foundation's fund-raising walks next month, we've amassed donations equal to 48% of my $3,000 target.

That ranks as the third-biggest among all participants.

In a nice touch, the Liver Walk organizers called to thank me (really all of you) for the generous donations - from around the world. And with weeks to go before the June 5 Manhattan walk and June 12 Liberty State Park (Jersey City) walk - the target is in sight! To the many who have given so generously - thank you so much. To those who are waiting - what are you waiting for? Thanks for spreading the word and for helping to fight this disease.

Donations can be made on line via credit card in any currency at

I was heartened Wednesday, too, by an email from NJ State Sen. Joseph Vitale, in support of my suggestion of changes in legislation aimed at increasing organ donations. In a nutshell, pending legislation allows only for someone who been a living organ donor to get a break on state taxes for out-of-pocket expenses related to this amazing gift. I pointed out, however, many potential donors often must come forward before a suitable living donor can be found. And all these people should be allowed the same tax break for the expenses they incur. The situation is especially true regarding liver transplants in NJ because there aren't any hospitals in the state doing living donor transplants, therefore hefty travel expenses are incurred regularly. The senator also directed his staff to pursue my suggestion to have NJ State Police hand out organ donation information with each citation they write. These small, easy changes can make THE difference in someone's life...

Speaking of life...more welcome news Wednesday came with word of the arrival of little Charles Benjamin, the first child of wonderful friends and neighbors, Marlene and Bill. Welcome to a wonderful place!


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

In Florida, With ''My Pet Dolphin''

Folks - Doctors orders for relaxation and recharging provided the spark for us to get some big time fresh air. Having been cooped up since I fell ill late last July, it wasn't a moment too soon for us to escape to a cheap hotel on a Florida Gulf Coast beach for a few days. My daily, local walks of 5 miles-plus turned into sunrise strolls on a wide, white sandy beach. While the president spent his famous ill-fated trip to the Sunshine State listening to an elementary schoool class read ''The Pet Goat'' (miscast often as ''My Pet Goat'') as our world was changing; my ever-changing world was enhanced by My Pet Dolphin who kept up with my heart-pumping stride for nearly a mile one morning. I named him Finnbar ("Finn" for short), because he showed an Irishman's willingness to change course for the chance of something interesting. As I headed south along the Gulf of Mexico one morning, I spotted Finnbar just less than 15 feet from shore in the shallow water. Nearby were others I called Jolly Man and Grace and Jones (the singer was once married to a Lurch-like failed actor whose first name was ''Dolph''). Finnbar ducked under in that way dolphins have of seeming to be toys on wheel and came up again now just five feet from me. On the empty beach, I literally spoke out loud to the dolphin, asking him to change direction and head south with me. He turned and swam to match my stride and followed me for at least 10 minutes down the beach, heeling as if on a leash. Soon Finn got his reward for changing course as breakfast arrived and after much trashing in the water, he and his mates were sated and off to deeper waters. Playing in my head was the staple song of Hootie and the Blowfish, in which he admits to being such a baby that a dolphin makes him cry.
I carried on to where the beach gives way to a nestle of mangrove and sea grape and few tourists tread a hidden path to another glorious stretch of sand, much of which is roped-off as a protection zone for plovers and other ground-nesting birds who lay their eggs on the beach.

Tasha collected shells of every size and shape - loving the jagged, broken pieces as much as the whole, perfect specimens. Alex told me he saw a swordfish just offshore, which I took to be a 7-year-old's imagination. Later, I spotted a curious fish just a few feet away. It looked like a cross between an alligator and a fish - brown spotted and ugly with a needle-nose and similar to the cheap cut-out puppets on the old kid's TV show ''Diver Dan.'' I don't know much about fish, but somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered that a friend had caught one of these ugly things years ago as we were sailing to the Dry Tortugas and chucked it back because it wasn't good eating. I thought it was called a gar. I drew a picture and asked a few folks at the hotel and surrounding area - but they hadn't even heard of a gar let alone seen the type of fish I was describing. Turns out most of them are from Ohio or Indiana and seemingly moved into Florida and got jobs just moments before we arrived. (Later, an internet search proved my power of recall is at least working when it comes to obscure topics - it was a gar that I saw and the drawing was startlingly accurate. The sighting was a rarity - they're not known for spending much time in salt water.)

A pleasant time overall - Nancy enjoyed swimming in the pool and Gulf and bronzed up nicely. We visited with her sister who lives down there and a neighbor took us out on a boating adventure where we saw a soaring bald eagle and ospreys and dolphins up close, although Tasha slept through much of the voyage. Alex kept a school journal of his trip and scored a hole in one - good for a free game - at a mini-golf place which had dozens of baby alligators on display. We spent one day hiking around a gorgeous 'real Florida' state park with isolated beach, where the palm-hatted food vendor is a Red Sox fan and the locals lament that some big-time media are calling the place one of the world's best kept secrets. (The secret location can only be pried out of me through a generous donation to my fund-raising effort on behalf of the American Liver Foundation.)

One day we set off to find manatees at a park where they usually hang out and instead found dozens of wild parrots. Life's like that. You're expecting manatees and you get green parrots instead. It's a beautiful thing.
The manatees - now nearly off the endangered species list due to successful protection efforts - apparently think the bath-water-like local waters are still too cold and prefer to stay near the warmer outflow of a nearby power plant.

I convinced Alex to join me on a sunrise walk and he, too, met Finnbar. We found a nasty shipwreck on that isolated beach, with debris everywhere, including a 12-foot pontoon and beer-can holder with a scraggly character drawn on it and the words ''Older Than Dirt.'' We later hit a pirates cove and bought replica ancient coins from ancient shipwrecks. Thankfully by late in the afternoon, the whole mess on our beach was cleared away. Alex, who collected feathers up and down the beach, scrawled a ''Dads are the best'' message in the sand with a quill tip.

The entire trip gave ua a curious and glorious checklist of wild and tame fauna -
2 papillon dogs, Luke and Zoe; ospreys; a bald eagle; several burrowing owls; various herons, pelicans, outrageously singing cardinals, skittering lizards, ugly lost gar, alligators, cattle and their accompanying bug-eating egrets, dolphins, a ''bobcat'' that was more likely a housecat named ''Bob,'' several tarantulas, frogs and snakes (one named Tasha) at a kids' science center; a long pet snake on the shoulders of a blonde teen-age girl at the beach; turtles, stingrays, whelks and conchs and an entire menagerie of tacky mailboxes and advertising signs - wood and plastic and metal representations of wildlife that you'd really see in abundance if all these folks hadn't moved in and turned 'paradise' into the name of the local taxi cab firm.

Filing past hordes of European vacationers, who seem to have a low tolerance for fresh air given their constant smoking on the beach, I set out for one last walk down the isolated sands before heading home. As the beach's far tip was lapped by the tide two hours before sunset, I mimiced an osprey who floated in the air on a thermal. My arms spread to catch the breeze, I gazed and thought about all the things I would never have been seeing had it not been for my donor's family and the grace of God.

I scrawled a simple message on the beach with my finger: Thank You.
And then, we got on with the business of getting back home, where Hippie Kitten waited and things never seemed so lush.

(Waiting messages brought the news that friends in England, Adrian and Sarah, have added a third girl to their family. Welcome to the world Imogen Scarlett!)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Feeling Like A Millionaire...

Folks - I had one of those millionaire days this week. That's a day when you would do exactly what you were doing, even if you were a millionaire. My millionaire moments came in a visit to Alexander's first-grade class. I took the opportunity to thank my son's classmates and teachers for their tremendous kindness when I was bedded down in NYU recovering from liver transplant. Nancy brought to me in the hospital a huge, poster-sized letter that the teacher wrote, using their words and it was adorned with their drawings of chirping birds. We hung it on the wall of my room, near my medical chart, and the doctors - although busy - stopped and read it each day. It never failed to lift my spirits of theirs.

''Dear Mr. Bird: We are so happy you are better! Congratulations, Mr. Bird! We are Alexander's friends. Alexander told us how nice everyone has been. He told us about your liver. Your friends, George, Robert, Alexander, Alex, Brian and Chris.''

The doctors kidded me about whether I would go in to the class and display my 'Mercedes' logo-shaped scar for ''show and tell.''

Well, not quite. But I did share a fair bit of myself. Over the past months, I've been scribbling thoughts and notes in books and sometimes - in the middle of the night - on paper towels in the bathroom. These snippets all came together on a walk in the woods and I banged out a 1,200-word manuscript of a children's book titled ''A Feather In The Woods.'' In it, a boy and his father have a close bond and share a deep love of nature, considering feathers found in the woods to be special gifts. ''Find a feather and you'll always feel better,'' the Dad in the book says. In the story, the son finds a feather from a mysterious bird and helps his hospitalized father recover from a serious illness.

With a bit of trepidation, I read the manuscript to the class and I'm glad to say they loved it. Now, it's not the most objective bunch of critics, but it was nice to get their ''A+ + + +'' grade in another poster-sized letter from the class. It would be a dream come true to have the book published (anybody got any connections?) But as I told Alexander and friends, even if it goes no further than their classroom, it was worth doing. One of those millionaire days...I wish them for all of you.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Help David Help Others

Hello Friends!
It's hard to believe it is four months after my liver transplant. I'm feeling stronger every day and happy to be able to devote my time and energy to raising money for liver disease research. I've been doing a lot of walking and exercising (doctor's orders) - 'driving my Mercedes' transplant scar to get back in shape.

I will be walking in two Liver Walks in June to benefit the American Liver Foundation.

On Sunday June 5, I will be at the Riverside Park event in New York City and on Sunday June 12, I will be participating in the Liberty State Park event in Jersey City.

I appreciate any donation you can make to the cause of finding a cure for this disease. I welcome you all to walk with me or to come out and cheer on me and my fellow workers in what will be a fun and glorious family event.

Contributions can be made easily through the following web address:

I set a fundraising goal of $3,000 - let's see if we can meet that - or top it!