Illinois Donor Diaries – Chapter 14 – A Brand New Year…

Happy New Year! With the start of a fresh new year, I thought it only fitting that we feature a new inspirational chapter from our Illinois Donor Diaries. Joe sent me his entry awhile back and I’ve been waiting for the right time to post. His entry in conjunction with his sister’s poem (below entry) is a must read. Equally miraculous is the fact that Joe has an entire photo album on his MySpace page documenting the transplant process in action. You truly get a sense for how many important personnel are involved in the process and how the selfless act of one human being helped save another.

Take a moment to check it out below and you can hop over to his MySpace page to send him a message as he enters into a fresh year with a new heart pumping away.

Thanks Joe, we wish everyone health and joy in 2008!


January 3, 2008

I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) and told that a heart transplant was the only option in September of 2006. I had to go on disability and move in with my parents as I was unable to live alone because of my condition. I tried going on a strict low sodium diet and exercise and improved for a while but it was only temporary. After being hospitalized for the month of April, I was sent to Chicago on May 3, 2007. I was hooked up to an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) immediately and then put on the transplant list on May 30.

I waited the first month as a transplant patient and never received any news. I was waiting at a hotel with family members taking turns staying with me as I could not be left alone due to the complications that could arise with the equipment they had installed in me. I finally improved and strengthened to the point that I was allowed to finally go home to continue waiting at home for the heart to arrive.

I had almost given up hope of ever receiving a new heart when at 3:30 on Sept. 4, 2007 the call finally came in. It was my heart and we immediately flew by jet back to Chicago to receive the best gift ever. This experience has changed my life completely and given me back all the dreams that I felt I had to give up. I am back in college now and spending all my free time with my daughter. Thanks to a strangers gift, she has her dad back.

God bless my donor and his family for caring enough to give to another. He will always be in my heart.

– Joe G.
Divernon, IL
Read Joe’s full story here.

Poem from Joe’s sister, Tami.

Who Were You?
By Tami Gardner

In loving memory and appreciation to “The Donor”

Were You someone’s son?
Were you their precious and only boy?
Who filled his mother’s heart
With laughter and with joy.
Were you someone’s big brother?
Were you the first to do everything? Did you pave the way?
For the little sisters who watched all you did
And knew you’d be great someday.
Were you someone’s father?
Were you the daddy who looked down
Into those beautiful eyes of blue?
On the day she was born did you look at your little girl and
Marvel at how much she looked like you?
Were you someone’s friend?
Did everyone who knew you come to love you in a special way?
Did you bring sunshine into every room,
Even on a rainy day?
Did you make a difference?
Because you were in it, was the world a better place?
Does just the thought of you
Bring a smile to every face?

I know your mother must be hurting and missing her baby boy.
But I wanted to say thank you,
For bringing back my mother’s joy.
If you had a brother or sister, I know they must be sad.
But I want to say thank you ,
For making this sister’s heart so glad.
If you were a father and you are looking down from heaven,
Watching your child grow.
I want you to look over and see the child,
Who needed her dad more than you’ll ever know.
Even though I am sure that you would have been the best father
A child ever had.
More than anything this world could offer,
This little girl needed her dad.
I am sure your friends are missing you
And treasure the memories of when you were here.
Those memories are the precious times
They will always hold dear.
You have given the gift of life.
You have given a brand new start.
Part of you still lives on
With every precious beat of my brother’s heart.
I don’t know who you are or what you dreamed to be.
But when you gave the gift of your heart,
You gave us back our family.


Read poem on Joe’s MySpace page here.


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