A heart transplant gave me a second chance at life

Deb and her son, Alex.

Deb Wallner and her son, Alex.

April is National Donate Life Month, and I am here today because I received a second chance at life. I’m the very fortunate recipient of another person’s heart. When I type or say it out loud, it still seems so surreal and so long ago. But it was only a little more than 8 years ago that congenital heart disease rapidly deteriorated my heart and I was told I needed a transplant.

Since my successful transplant, I have witnessed many of my son’s major milestones and in a few months, I will see Alex graduate from high school. Living with a transplanted organ is not easy. The medications have side effects, there is an increased chance of infections, there are many doctor appointments and the list goes on.

What grounds me and keeps me positive is that I am here. For me to have life, a young man died. His family chose to honor his wish by donating his organs. I owe it to Christopher for deciding early on in his young life that he wanted to be an organ donor.

By working as a pediatric nurse at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin I also have been able to honor my son, Jordan, who died as a baby from a congenital heart disorder. My son was only able to donate his eyes, which provides a sense of comfort knowing part of him lives on. I’m sharing my story about organ donation so that other families who experience the loss of a loved one can understand that becoming a donor allows you to give the gift of blood, marrow, organ, tissues or eyes. For many people, your donation will give them their only chance for recovery or survival.

Become a donor today

I encourage you to celebrate donors who have saved lives and improved the quality of life for patients. You can become a donor today by:

Deb Wallner, BSN, RN~ Deb Wallner, BSN, RN, ambulatory clinic manager, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Deb is an ambulatory clinic manager in the Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

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