I have always been active in sports and recreation and as I got older, I experienced significant deterioration of the discs in my neck, particularly C3 through C7. A skiing accident in 2015, accelerated the problems and the pain got worse. I tried all measures of pain management and rehabilitation, including chiropractic care, acupuncture and epidurals. Those helped for a few years, but later, just day-to-day living became more difficult as the chronic pain advanced and completely altered my life.
After consulting my neurosurgeon, I decided to have Anterior Cervical Disc Fusion, an operation that would replace the degenerative discs in my neck. The surgery required some titanium and plastic parts, and, most importantly, donated tissue. Although I am still in recovery, I awoke from the surgery with significantly less pain than before, and I continue to improve.
I am very thankful for the gift that I received. I really believe that the donor’s generosity will help me to continue to live better and give me the chance to pay it forward. I am now a registered tissue donor myself and continue to pay it forward throughout my life through charitable giving and volunteer work.
I have also had the opportunity to experience the other side of the story. My older brother died 12 years ago and, with no documentation in place and as his next of kin, I had to make the decision whether he was to be a donor. My brother was a kind and generous person who would give a stranger the shirt off of his back. So, the choice was an easy one. He would have wanted to continue his giving ways. Later, I received several letters from families who had benefited from my brother’s donated tissue. Seeing both sides of this life-saving choice has made me a big advocate for tissue donation.