Friday, April 20, 2007

I recently received an email from Emily Wilcox regarding the letter I sent to the Old Colony Memorial, Plymouth's local newspaper. Emily Wilcox wrote the article about Chuckie Vandini, the man who recently died in a horrible yet preventable motor cycle accident. His family donated his organs. I always do something in April to promote organ donation awareness. This year, between my myspace page (, letter to the editor, and volunteering, I think that my donors and their families would be pleased. Anyhow, Emily wrote that I had made her day with the positive reaction to her article. Yippee! I am not sure if they will be printing my letter, but at least Emily had a chance to know that her writing was well-received and inspirational.
More later...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

It's been a while since I have posted. I have been in a funk after Papa's death and being sick most of March. I missed out on a lot because I didn't want to get anyone else sick and I felt better off just staying in bed. Recognizing my depression, I got up and got on with things, which has made me a lot better. It's April, a month of renewal, though Spring has been elusive. I celebrated my 8th lung transplant anniversary (4/10/99) and I can't believe it has been so long! I am currently number one on the pancreas list after being reactivated from status 7 (inactive, accruing time) due to my bout of pneumonia and hospitalization back to staus 1- ready to go! I would like to thank everyone (especially Kevin) who supported me and dealt with me while I was sick emotionally and physically. I appreciate all the cards and emails. I am so blessed to have friends and family like you!

April is also important because it is Donate Life month. I recently submitted this letter to the editor of the local newspaper:

Dear Editor,

As I read the article by Emily Wilcox focusing on the late Mr. Vandini’s tragic death and subsequent gift of life, I was particularly touched. I did not know Chuckie Vandini personally, but as a two-time transplant recipient awaiting a third, I know the value of his legacy. I know the value of a new lease on life. On behalf of his recipients and recipients everywhere, I want to thank his family.

April is National Donate Life month, focusing on bringing awareness and education to organ and tissue donation. Currently, there are nearly 100,000 Americans waiting for an organ transplant. For many, transplantation is their last hope, a final effort to sustain life. In my case, I was losing my battle against the ravages of Cystic Fibrosis. I was 21 and not likely to see my next birthday. However, with the passing of my great Uncle Robert Balboni and the donation of his lungs to me, I have not only survived but thrived. Last week, I celebrated my eighth anniversary. In fact, I celebrate life everyday and honor his legacy by speaking and teaching others through my volunteer work with the New England Organ Bank.

Sometimes lightning does strike twice. In 2004, I experienced kidney failure. After a year of dialysis left me with a bruised and battered body, I received my second transplant. My kidney came from California. A young, healthy husband and father died tragically in a car accident. Thankfully, he had made his wishes clear to his family just week’s before. I have spoken with his wife, family, and friends to let them know that their loss was not in vain and they are content to see that part of him lives on in me.

A recent Gallup survey has found that while 90% of Americans have heard of organ transplants, only 30% know the proper steps to become a donor: designating it on your driver’s license, signing an organ donor card, and talking to your family. When I speak about organ donation, I try to drive the point home that whether you want to donate your organs or not, let your family know so they don’t have to try to figure it out while dealing with such a huge loss.

Currently, I am waiting for a pancreas transplant to help with my brittle diabetes. While my body may be broken, I am no worse for the wear. I am blessed to know and to treasure the gift of life.

Sincerely, Jill ....

So what do you think?