The first night after my heart transplant I had trouble sleeping. As I lay awake in the dark my mind drifted to the person whose gift had just changed my life forever. I began to compose a letter to his family in which I expressed my desire to meet them in person so as to give them a hug and bring his heart close to them one more time.
It has now been almost seven years and the dream finally came true yesterday. My donor, Shane's, Aunt Patty and his grandmother Gertrude were in town for a tennis tournament. Patty, who is paraplegic, competes internationally and was in Roseville for the weekend. On Thursday we opened the mail to find a card from her hoping to meet us. Shane's cousin had recently received a kidney/pancreas transplant which stirred in Patty a desire to find out about me. I couldn't be more thrilled to meet her and her mother, Gertrude, who just celebrated her 90th birthday.
Barbie and I arrived at the Johnson Ranch Tennis Club about a half mile from where I work every day. My emotions were raw and spontaneous as I knelt to give her a hug. They told us all about Shane; about who he was and his personal decision, conveyed years earlier to his father, to be an organ donor. I felt a new closeness to him and to our shared heart. The connection was complete.
Words can never convey the gratitude that I feel to him and to his family. When my time here on earth is done, (a very long time from now,) I will find him in heaven and finally know the man that made my continued mortal existence possible. For now, meeting his family fulfills a wish and a dream that has lingered so long.