Today marks the 17th anniversary of my heart transplant. As the years have gone by I have found myself more and more emotional on this day. My emotions run the gamut, from joy and thankfulness for the tremendous gift I was given (and the second gift that my family was given 22 months later with the birth of our daughter Molly), to great sadness for the tremendous loss suffered by my donor and his family, to admiration and awe for the selflessness of not just my donor family, but for all donors and donor families across the country and around the world.
The word “hero” is used all too frequently today, but to call donors and donor families heroes is, in my humble opinion, a tremendous understatement. I am constantly amazed as to how a mother or father or spouse or sibling, who are in the midst of suffering from the sudden, and often tragic, loss of a loved one, can muster up the compassion and generosity to make the ultimate gift, the gift of life. They are all true heroes and I salute them all.