Donor Recipients Share Their Experiences with Support Groups

Donor Recipients Share Their Experiences with Support Groups
Posted at 6:05 PM, Jan 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-25 14:53:09-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - We shared the amazing story of Nancy Burke with you last week. Now Burke, a heart transplant recipient, is reflecting on her life and how her new heart has not only allowed her to have a son, but to also watch him grow.

"But to sit back now and think about today, and think that I've lived long enough and healthy enough to have another child," said Burke. "And now, I've lived long enough for him to enter college"

Burke's story has touched many, including Coach Sue Semrau, inspiring the FSU coach to become an organ donor when she first heard it.

Like Burke, many others depend on organ donations to have their second chance at life.

Many of the organ recipients find that, support groups help tremendously and not only for them, but also for their care takers, and others waiting to receive new organs.

150 people are added to the transplant wait list each and every day, with over 120,000 patients waiting for new organs. For many health care professionals, those on the wait list are urged to find a support group.

Laura Mullinax, an LPN for North Florida Nephrology said, "We encourage people to come before their transplants so they know what kind of questions to ask the transplant team when they get to the evaluation process."

And for those who have already received a transplant? They still attend their support groups and share their experiences as well.

"My main reason for going now is just to pass along information that I know is going to make the journey easier for somebody coming behind me," said Eddie Long, a lung recipient. 

For some, support groups are a constant reminder to just be vigilant and safe in every day living.

'You begin to feel so much better after you get a new kidney or a new organ. You begin to live your life. Life goes on, and oh, boom! Something happens. Maybe because you forgot. You forgot to take your medications," said Dee Wilder, a kidney recipient. "The group is open not just to people who are waiting for an organ, or who have had a transplant, but for their family members.'

The kidney transplant support group meets the first Thursday of each month at the North Florida Nephrology Center, and encourages all organ recipients and their families to join the group.