Next Mike Mania

Mike Mania, Recipient

[by Mike Mania]

Our story begins with Mike having abdominal surgery back in 2004, going into it with an existing lung disease called Sarcoidosis which led to a long 4 1/2 month hospital stay and a long road to recovery. From that date, Mike's lung disease progressively worsened with him requiring oxygen which ultimately led to him going through the process of being listed for a double lung transplant. After months of tests, surgery and many doctor visits, on March 28, 2013 Mike was listed for a bilateral lung transplant. The wait was long with the anxiety of waiting for "the call" where we would be told that they had lungs that were a match which Mike so desperately needed to survive. On August 1, 2013 we received a call that they had a match and we made our way to the hospital which turned out to be what, in transplant land, is referred to as a "dry run". The lungs at that time were not viable for transplant and we were sent home to continue the wait. Shortly after the dry run, Mike was hospitalized and sent to a rehabilitation center near the hospital where he was to have the surgery and was told there he would stay until a set of lungs were found to be a match since his requirement for oxygen was so high and the equipment at home was not adequate for his needs. Time was certainly not on Mike's side since he was becoming very ill as each day passed and his window was closing to be able to receive a transplant. But, on September 7, 2013 at 3:11 in the morning, we received the second call that they had a match for Mike. The surgery miraculously was a go and Mike underwent the overwhelming surgery of his life. He received the Gift of Life that day which led to more than a three month stay in the hospital due to complications. But after months in the hospital, many procedures and a long road to recovery, it was then that he decided to write the donor family in hopes they would respond, which they did. We corresponded with the family a few times and at one point a letter was written from each family member, Mike's wife, daughter and son as well as Mike, each wrote a separate letter telling them how grateful they were, in their own words, for the selfless act during the most tragic time in this family's life. Their daughter, Samantha, lovingly known as Sam, passed away at the age of 23 from a brain aneurysm that ruptured while she was driving to a friends house on September 5, 2013. The family made the decision to donate their daughter's organs to help save the lives of people in dire need of a transplant. Her heart, lungs and liver were donated and the lives of three people were saved. Mike was one of them and we have been grateful ever since and have also become friends with the family and are so honored that we were able to meet and get to know about his donor and what a beautiful and wonderful person she was. With her giving and caring personality, they knew this is what she would have wanted. It has been so meaningful to have met this family, participate in their fundraising events to benefit and support organ donor awareness through the Gift of Life, scholarships in Sam's name and brain aneurysm research. The events include a Sprint for Sam walk, a golf tournament, both of which are held annually among other fundraising with proceeds going to such an amazing cause. Organ donor awareness has played such an important part of our life and we have seen, full circle, by meeting the donor family and hearing what they endured, how much this really has put things in perspective and we cherish each day we have for the amazing Gift Of Life Network, the Donors and their families who, through their generosity, saves many lives. Mike is now almost 6 years post transplant and is able to breath easy and is grateful for each breathe taken each and every moment of each and every day...