The miracle of organ donation

|Peter Bragdon – Liver Recipient|

April is national Organ Donation Month and I wanted to take the time to share my personal story of organ donation. On May 24, 2020, it will be two years since I received the gift of life, a liver transplant.

On Valentine’s Day of 2018, I was very sick. I had to stop working and it was a rapid downhill cycle from there.  I lost my will to take care of myself, my will to get out of bed, my will to eat, my will to fight. Truly, I lost my will to live. I had told my family that I wanted to die and go home to be with my earthly and heavenly fathers.

When I finally went to the hospital, I had pneumonia, kidney failure, liver failure, pancreatitis, anemia among many other issues. Doctors said I was nearing death, likely within 3 weeks. I was transferred to Mass General Hospital where I was rushed into the transplant program.  They said most likely I would need a kidney transplant and a liver transplant, but I recovered enough that I didn’t need a kidney. Normally, it takes from 6 months to 3 years to get a liver, but I couldn’t wait. On May 24th, I received my second chance at life.  Everything fell into place so quickly that my wife couldn’t even make it from Maine to Boston in time to see me before surgery.

I received about 70% of a young adult male’s liver. The doctors were able to completely remove my liver and place the partial liver in me.  The other roughly 30% went to a young child around the age of 5.  One person’s tragic death saved the life of two people. I am active; I am living life better than I ever have.  I am very thankful to a family that experienced an awful loss and the choice was made to give life to someone else.

Are you an organ donor?  It’s very simple to sign up to be one thru Maine.gov.  I am part of a committee appointed by the Senate President and Governor to manage organ donation awareness and sign up in Maine.  Once this virus passes we will be rolling out a yearlong advertising promo on sign ups.    There is an uptrend in living donors at this point; meaning living people are donating a kidney, lobe of a lung, part of liver etc. In 2019 there were 19,267 donors of those 7,397 were living donors totaling about 39,000 people being helped with a transplant.  There is an active waiting list of about 120,000 people in which about 20 people will die a day waiting for an organ.

I ask you to make that commitment to be an organ donor.  You never know what you will be able to give when you pass away. Be the difference. Give life, give hope!     

If you want any more information or want to discuss this further please reach out to me.   prbragdon@gmail.com