33 hours ago, my Dad was struggling with every breath. That was before he got his miracle. The double lung transplant we have been wishing for finally came true. It has been a roller coaster ride of emotional milestones. When the doctors came in with the news that donor organs have become available. When his brother told him to nap because he was going to need his rest to get through the coming event. When he left his hospital room with my Mom to move to pre-op. When in pre-op he and my Mom had to endure the seemingly eternal wait for the final approval that the lungs were acceptable and had passed all criteria. When all gathered family hunkered down in the waiting room. As we all told nervous jokes, shared stories, said prayers, and tried to make the time pass. When the phone rang to tell us that the surgery had begun. When we got the update that one lung was in. When we went searching for an update after many more hours, and found out that he was in ICU and that the surgery was complete and went as smoothly as possible. When we sat and watched him breath on his own, albeit with some assistance from the respirator, even before he came out of sedation. As he opened his eyes for the first time, and gave us a wink. As his brother was with him while they removed the respirator (at less than 12 hours!). When we came back to the hospital, exhausted but overjoyed to hear him mutter a few words and share some smiles. And then, this morning when Mom called the hospital to check in and found out that he was out of bed and sitting in a chair. When we arrived to see him, and he was sipping water from a cup, and we said "wow, he’s able to drink already?" and the nurse said "sure, and his lunch tray should be here soon." And he ate it all. And then he napped. And now, roughly 33 hours after the beginning of his surgery – he just went for a walk! A walk of perhaps 40 feet total, that featured a normal pulse and normal blood oxygen level and no coughing. What a difference 33 hours make.
We owe all of this to the doctors, the nurses, the physical and respiratory therapy staff, certainly. They are the ones who guided him and cared for him all through his illness, who kept him stable for the month long wait in the hospital, who performed the procedure, and who will now guide him through his recovery.
But most importantly and especially we owe all of this to one thoughtful beautiful person who we will always hold in our hearts – an organ donor who gave us the gift of life. We don’t know the circumstances or anything about our donor, but there is one thing that we can know for sure, as overjoyed as we are there is some family that is just as devastated from the loss of a loved one. Whoever they are, I want them to know their loved one has done something wonderful. We welcome them into our family. We say "Thank you".