Sunday, November 11, 2012

Today was the day 11 years ago that we got a call...

That changed our lives forever. My son Gavin was sick. We will never know if he was born with Cardiomyopathy or if he caught a virus that caused his heart to be enlarged...but either way it was a grim outlook. He lost a lot of weight and things did not look good. I was told in October of 2001 that he would need a heart transplant. My baby, who had shrunk down to a 14lbs at six months old, would need a complete heart transplant! The medicines he was on were not helping. His heart was still the size of a 17 year old males. He was put on a Donor Transplant list. We waited only nine days, which is unheard of, most people wait years for an organ transplant. I still remember being on a date with Gavin’s dad and coming home to my best friend Ginger, who had been sitting at home in pins and needles waiting for us to get home, saying that we needed to call the hospital right away (this was before the days that everyone had cell phones) We called Vandy and Gavin’s' cardiologist said "We think we have a match, we need you to come down here!" I remember feeling so happy, so hopeful but yet still having a lump in my throat, knowing that somewhere some family was sitting bedside to a dying child. They were choosing to say goodbye. We will be forever grateful to this family as their heartache and loss gave us hope. They saved Gavin’s life. This is my letter to the donor family that i am sending this week. Only took me eleven years to finish it. Break out your tissues folks! And go hug everyone you love, you never know what could happen to you or them! Life is too precious!!

Dear Donor family,

It has taken me so long to write this letter. Every time I try to write a thank you card it overwhelms me, as a “thank you card” is so trivial compared to what you gave us. It’s difficult to put the emotions I have into words. Words cannot describe how I feel. It’s so much more than writing a thank you letter. It’s so much more than being grateful, so much more than being thankful. It’s not taking any moment for granted now because I know how close I came to being in a similar position as you. Being close so to losing him was heart wrenching (he was only 6 months old and we barely got to enjoy him) and then all of the sudden getting a new lease on his life. There have been many nights before the transplant (while waiting/hoping for his heart to get better) that I was worried my biggest fear of outliving my child would come true. I don’t know how you endured what you have, I only know that it was probably the hardest day, week, year. of your life. The fact that you chose to give my son and many others life through your child’s organs is something we could never repay. I am hoping you find some solace in the fact that you have helped many people. Every November I think about how happy I am that my son has lived to see another year, and then there is always that burst of sadness when I think about his anniversary of a second chance of life is your anniversary of a death. I am truly sorry for your loss. I could not imagine what you went through. I only hope that you can combine the memories you do have with thoughts of knowing that even in the midst of your pain and loss many people were given second chances. I know that on November 11th, 2001 when we were waiting to hear back whether or not your child’s heart was a match for my son, knowing that somewhere in TN a family was saying goodbye and choosing to end their child’s life to save a few more…it was so emotional. It was a mix of emotions, feeling guilty for being so happy but knowing somewhere you were going through a nightmare. I cannot explain how truly grateful we are to you. I am sorry it has taken us so long to correspond. Our lives have been forever changed by my sons needing a heart transplant. We have been blessed, tested and challenged but most of all speechless with hearts overflowing with gratitude. What do I say besides thank you? It just seems so trivial when you consider what you chose, gave my son LIFE. We are so grateful for every day Gavin gets to be with us, made possible by you deciding to donate your child’s organs. Thank you for giving me/us the past 11 years with my son. Thank you for giving him a healthy heart so that he could play flag football and a loving heart so that he would be the sweetest child I could imagine. Thank you for giving me time with my child who loves to come climb in my bed and snuggle, and read together. Thank you for giving him a loving heart that at age 11 he is not embarrassed to be seen hugging his mama. Thank you for giving me such special moments that we might not have had if the disease he had won. He has such a sweet disposition, he often is very concerned with others feelings. He loves movies, loves to read and he’s great at sports, his newest obsession is football!
I often wonder if he has some of the same character traits as your child. I would love to think he did. I want you to know that he is one of the sweetest kids I know, and I am not just biased because I am his mom,well maybe! But he has been such a blessing in my life. I know I am so blessed to spend every minute I get with him. I just wanted to finally let you know how we will always be and have been forever truly grateful. Please know that in the midst of heartbreak you did a wonderful, amazing, selfless act. One that cannot be matched, we will be forever indebted to you and your family. Thank you a million times over.

God bless you and make His face shine upon you. Love the family of Gavin.

One rare pic before the heart transplant!

A few days after!

During chemo...
He loves his mama!

Routine EKG!

Summer fun!