In April, while planning a Charmed by Charity Event in Boston for National Donate Life Month, we had the pleasure of meeting Andrea Hampton and hearing her and her husband Greg’s incredible story as he awaits a new heart. Knowing that it would be so much more powerful coming from her, we asked her to guest blog this month and she was gracious enough to share their powerful story, which spreads the message of the importance of organ donation.
I never used to give much thought to organ donation, beyond registering to be an organ donor the last time I renewed my license, a few years ago. Now, not a day goes by that I don’t think about organ donation and the life-saving donor heart my husband, Greg, is waiting for.
Many years after first being diagnosed with a heart condition, in April of 2010, we learned that it would be a matter of “when” Greg would need a heart transplant versus “if.” Greg was placed on the heart transplant waiting list in February of 2012 and by February of this year he was admitted to the hospital. He has been living at Tufts Medical Center ever since and continues to await the perfect donor heart that will give him a chance at a healthy future.
We were told during the listing process that “waiting is the hardest part.” These words have rung true every day of the past 16 months, but especially the past four and a half while Greg has taken up residence at Tufts and I have tried to wait it out, balancing work, hospital visits, taking care of our dogs and maintaining our home.
We don’t know when “the call” will come — it could be any day or it could be several weeks or months away. It’s scary and exhausting to wait; it’s exhilarating to think of the “normal” and healthy life post-transplant. As hard as this is, it feels like we have been blessed with an acute awareness of how short life can be, how important it is to appreciate every single day, and how important it is to be grateful for what we do have.
Our hope is to help promote awareness and education about the critical need for organ donors and the life-saving power that being a donor has. I would never wish this journey that Greg and I have had to endure upon anyone and I hope for a future where people aren’t waiting months, or years, for the organ that they need or risk dying before it comes.
In February of 2012, after Greg completed all of the necessary tests and appointments for the transplant listing process, I bought my first Alex and Ani bangles comprised of charms that would show my strength, support, hope and love for Greg. In April, I was fortunate to participate in a Charmed by Charity event to celebrate organ donation awareness month; selfishly, it was gratifying to do something proactive to rally for Greg and all of the others on the transplant waiting list. My bangles, which continue to grow in numbers, continue to be a source of strength and hope for me and I am truly humbled and grateful to have been welcomed in to share my story with the Alex and Ani family and their partners.
If you are not already registered to be an organ donor, please consider it. You can get all of the facts about the critical need for organ donors and register at www.organdonor.gov. Greg and I are keeping a blog to share our journey with family, friends and supporters, and to hopefully inspire others to support the organ donation cause. I invite you to follow our story by clicking here and am grateful for anything you can do to help spread the word about organ donation.
Written by Andrea Hampton, wife of a member of the transplant list.