Open Letter To My Organ Donor

I didn’t know you, I didn’t know the color of your hair, the way you used to laugh, or even your first name, but to me you are Jim. I don’t know how you lost your life, I don’t know the age you were when your family laid you to rest, but there is one thing I do know: you selflessly signed yourself up as an organ donor. For that, I am eternally grateful. Without you, I would not be walking today; I would be confined to a cane or a wheelchair without your donation.

In March of 2013, I received your donation after struggling to walk for 7 months due to an injury. The pain was excruciating; I no longer could walk more than a few feet without collapsing to the ground. The doctors tried desperately to repair the damage, but it was too extensive, so I was given donor ligaments…your ligaments. Without you, Jim, I wouldn’t have climbed to the tops of the Tushar Mountains of Utah, to the craters of Oahu, or the mountains of Tennessee. I wouldn’t have walked the streets of New York City, Boston, or San Diego. There would be no Lizard Trails.

Though your life has passed, you are alive in those who received your donations. For days, I sat trying to figure out what to write when I wrote your family, but there are no words to express my sorrow for your passing, and also my unending gratitude for your donation to me. Because of your gift, I can follow my passion; you gave me a new lease on life. I can run with my niece as I watch her enter her toddler years and I can walk across the stage to receive my diplomas, all because of you.

When people ask why I walk everywhere when I have a perfectly good car, I think about you. It took me 6 months to relearn how to walk correctly; I made a vow that I wouldn’t take walking for granted again, because of your donation, I can walk. You are with me every time I lace up my hiking boots, hop on an airplane, or race through the desert on my quad. Thank you, Jim.

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