Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Happy Anniversary and Always Learning Lessons

Tuesday, December 19 marked the second, amazing anniversary of my liver transplant.
In so many ways, it seems as if it were so long ago. In other ways, it seems as if it was yesterday.

After seeing the kids off to school, I treated Nancy to my 7-mile walk/hike through our neighborhood and woods. The journey is always rewarding, but especially sweeter today. We returned home to breakfast, spread out the newspaper, and there was our treat at the kitchen table: front-page news that a local college student was donating a kidney to save the life of a friend. Reading that story and seeing how one person's generosity, love and courageous can bring another back from the brink is so reassuring. It speaks to the pure spirit of life and the humanity of man that we should all carry with us each day. Our day was topped off by attending a Nativity play at our church, with Alex playing a shepherd's role (complete with battery-operated candle), and a warm celebratory dinner featuring soup, pizza and fluffer-nutters.
Among all the laughter and a few tears of joy, the best moment came from Tasha, who was just 3-1/2 at the time of my surgery, when she spontaneously offered: ''Happy Re-Birthday, Dad.''

The splendid week continued today when Nancy and I attended the NYU Transplant Center's annual holiday breakfast - a wonderful chance to see my doctors, their vital staff members, and, most importantly, so many transplant recipients doing so well. I submitted my anniversary letter to my donor family and am hopeful for a response and the opportunity to one day meet them and thank them in person.

We visited with Dr. Lewis Teperman, the head of the transplant center, who was such a vital force in my treatment, and Dr. Thomas Diflo, who performed my surgery. Dr. Diflo couldn't stay long - he was off to perform a kidney transplant; we especially missed seeing Dr. Devon John at the party. He was preparing the donor kidney for transplant.

That's the nature of the business - and we wish them all a very, busy holiday season.
It was somehow pleasant to learn that, while there is always a full house in the transplant ward, there isn't a patient today that is as critically ill as I was back then as Christmas approached.

Our thoughts and prayers, as ever, are with everyone awaiting transplant, their families, donors and donor families, and the medical teams - not angels, but those who act as angels. They have it tougher. For angels - that's their full-time job. It's the round-the-clock staff and the full-time caregivers that have it tougher - acting as angels while having their own lives to live.

In this season of giving, the question always comes up - am I doing enough?
For those new to this blog and regular readers - here's my standard plea - become an organ donor. Organ donors do make miracles happen. I'm living proof.
In NJ - elsewhere

In passing this week, I came across the story of Zell Kravinksy, a most amazing man, who earned millions of dollars and gave them away to the needy. That wasn't enough, so he altruistically donated a kidney - and directly saved a life. It's a complex and compelling tale that should be read and discussed by all. His tale is part of a New York Times magazine story from Dec. 17 (''On Giving'') and is also well told here:
which also features soothing, contemplative music.

Be happy. Be healthy. Love. And be loved.