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My name is Tina Nelson and my story begins at the age of 7. My mother knew I was ill and she fought for 2 years before the doctors realized something was seriously wrong. At 9, I was sent to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. They performed exploratory surgery where they discovered my liver was functioning at 3%. My parents were informed that I had anywhere from 1-2 years to live.
I was really sick for a couple of years and then my illness (which they didn’t have a name for) tapered off. I maintained a pretty normal teenage life. I took dance lessons from the age of 10. I was a cheerleader in high school, I was popular, I had a social life and I went on trips. My parents never held me back for fear of something happening. I attended college and graduated as a Registered Practical Nurse. I worked for a number of years, but at the age of 26 I was put on the transplant list. My health was deteriorating and I had no choice but to go on disability.
By the grace of God I had made it this far in my life and had defied the doctor’s expectations. There was no doubt in my mind I would get a liver, it was just a matter of when. My life was put on hold, my health continued to decline rapidly and my spirit was dying. I tried to keep a positive attitude but it was very difficult at times. I was very hard to be around, so I was told later. That time in my life I wasn’t living, I merely existed. It killed me that I was once again putting my parents through such emotional turmoil. I had already caused them such heartache and again they were worrying about my health.
I waited 2 years and 5 months; it was a couple of weeks past my 28th birthday. I received my phone call, a donor had become available. I hung up the phone, I was very excited and scared at the same time. I called my mom and asked her if she was packed, that it was time. When I hung up the phone, I sat on my bed and it hit me. Someone had died. I broke down and cried. You know that’s what it takes but until it actually happens it doesn’t seem real. Here my family and I are rejoicing because I will have a new start and there is a family somewhere mourning the loss of a loved one. Somehow immersed in all their sorrow and grief they were able to see beyond it to do something totally selfless. Words can never describe how thankful and indebted my family and I are for their generosity. Out of their sorrow came a great deed.
Since my liver transplant things have been wonderful. My health is 100%, better than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I’m only on 5 tiny pills a day, that’s it. I was married for a couple of years but that has come to an end. Fortunately, out of my marriage came a beautiful baby boy. He truly is my gift from God. He just turned 3 in March of 2005. Hopefully I will be blessed with more children, when the time is right. I have also retrained and I am now a Medical Laboratory Technician. Life is good.
I will be forever thankful to my donor and my donor’s family for their love of human life. I am a true testament that transplantation does work. I have been blessed with wonderful and supportive family and friends for whom I will always be thankful. I have been given a new lease on life which I thank my donor and God for every day. So please, if you haven’t already, SIGN YOUR DONOR CARD.