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      Mark Koziol
      Participant

      When I was being evaluated for a lung transplant, there was an extensive work up by the social worker. Many questions were asked, but the most important question was: how do you feel about somebody having to die so you can receive a second chance at life? At first I didn’t know how to answer the question and was somewhat baffled. This situation happening, never occurred to me. It took what seemed like several minutes and I answered the question. I told her, I believe in fate and there is nothing we can do or say to be able to stop fate from happening. If this has to happen then this is my plan and I will be forever grateful to my donor and their family.

      When recovering from the transplant, I was asked this question again by a clergy member. My response was the same. The transplant floor was almost filled to capacity when I was there. There were many recently transplanted heart and lung patients recovering on the floor. During my strolls around the unit, I didn’t see many patients who were ambulatory. I had a successful surgery with no complications and was out of ICU in less than 3 days. On my 4th day out of surgery I was up and walking (with help of course).

      I did not have survivor’s guilt because my donor died, but for the patients who were not recovering as well as I did. Many of the patients were having complications. My question to the nurses and doctors was why me? How come I am doing so well and so many are suffering? My medical caregivers would always reply that this is the way things work out and I should  concentrate on my recovery. I’m sorry, but I had empathy for my fellow transplant patients.

      One of my doctors would later tell me I had what is considered survivors guilt. However, the guilt is expressed for other patients who are in similar situations, but not doing as well as me. I still have empathy and survivors guilt for persons who do not have a successful transplant. It is disheartening to hear about death and severe complications among our community. Belonging to several online pulmonary fibrosis groups and attending a lung transplant support group, I often hear of patients who have major complications and sometimes pass away. In a perfect world, all transplant surgeries would be successful.

      I will always have empathy for my donor and his family and I am extremely grateful to this man and his family. Words cannot express the feeling of gratitude I have.

      How do you feel about a person passing away in order for you to live?

      If you have a received a donated organ, have you experienced survivors guilt for either your donor or other patients not doing as well as you?

       

       

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