MAKE A LASTING IMPRESSION WITH A PLANNED GIFT TO GIFT OF LIFE FAMILY HOUSE

By | January 25th, 2017

Have you ever wondered how the people and charities you care about will fair when you are no longer here to help them? A good way to make certain that your values live on is by writing down what’s important to you. Another is by making provisions in your estate plan to ensure your charitable support continues. By including the Family House in your will/bequest you can help to ensure that the Family House is able to maintain their affordable fees and broad array of services for all who need support— now and in the future. It is an easy and simple way that you can support the future of the Family House, and continue care for transplant patients and families. Bequests can be a percentage of the remainder of your estate or a specific dollar amount. If you already have prepared a will, you can simply add a codicil amending it to include the Family House.

IS YOUR WILL DUE FOR AN UPDATE? Here are a few reasons that individuals or couples may need to update their will:

  • A change in marital status
  • The birth or adoption of a child or grandchild
  • The death of an individual included in your will
  • Retirement or relocation to another state
  • A change in assets
  • The start of a new business
  • New tax laws

ALREADY INCLUDED THE FAMILY HOUSE IN YOUR WILL? Let us know so we can celebrate with you now! Enjoy recognition today as a Legacy Society member. Donors who notify us that they have made arrangements for planned gifts will be recognized as members of our prestigious Legacy Society. Visit www.GiftofLifeFamilyHouse.org for more information.

TO DISCUSS MAKING A PLANNED GIFT TO GIFT OF LIFE FAMILY HOUSE OR IF YOU HAVE ALREADY NAMED US IN YOUR WILL, please contact Sara Cohen, Development Manager at 267-546-9812 or email scohen@giftoflifefamilyhouse.org.

Please consult your attorney, tax advisor or financial advisor before making a bequest or updating your estate plan.

 

At the Family House I Wasn’t Alone

By | December 28th, 2016

Darryl Price’s wife, Terri, spent 42 nights at the Family House this past summer while he recovered from a life-saving double lung transplant.

Connecting with other patients’ wives staying at the Family House aided Terri’s own well-being as a caregiver, she says. “It helped me realize I wasn’t alone. Even though we were talking about our husbands and their illnesses, we were also talking about how we had to take care of ourselves. We were encouraging and supporting each other.”

An all-around athlete and avid tennis player, Darryl began feeling ill about three years ago. It took a while for doctors to pinpoint what was wrong, but when they did, it was serious — Pulmonary Fibrosis, a disease that causes scar tissue to build up inside the lungs, making it hard to breathe. Sometimes, as it was in Darryl’s case, there is no known cause.

As his health deteriorated over time, it became clear that Darryl needed a lung transplant — and soon. Terri and Darryl endured five dry runs from their North Jersey home to transplant centers in New York City and Philadelphia where he was dually listed. Each time, donor lungs were available, but ultimately not accepted by the surgeons.

Finally, on June 24th, on their sixth try, and after many hours of waiting at the hospital in Philadelphia, they got the good news that the donor lungs were suitable and Darryl would receive his gift of life. He continues to get stronger each day and hopes to return to work soon. He has already gotten back on the tennis court.

Terri and Darryl

Staying at the Family House helped Terri focus on Darryl’s needs because her needs were being met. “It took a load off my mind. I didn’t have to think about the day to day: where am I going to eat, how am I going to get laundry done, and all that other routine stuff. It gave me peace of mind.”

Darryl believes that helping other patients and family caregivers who need to be uplifted or reassured has helped him in his own recovery. The Family House, he says, is a unique place that fosters this kind of person to person support.

Explains Darryl, “At the Family House, you can ask a person, ‘Are you alone?’ which would be an odd question to ask a total stranger in any other setting. But in the context of the Family House, not only can you ask that question, but you can expect a long, meaningful conversation to ensue that both parties can benefit from.”

The strength of being in a community at the Family House is fostered by the daily interactions with fellow transplant patients and families, volunteers — many of whom are transplant or donor families — and the staff.

“When I stay at the Family House, I can speak in a kind of shorthand. It’s much easier to deal with the issues that come up. For example, if I ask for a refrigerator in my room, the staff knows that it’s likely that I’m taking medication that needs to be refrigerated. I don’t have to explain why or give justifications, they just understand it.”

 

You can give transplant patients and their families a “home away from home” by making a generous donation today.

 

 

 

Helping Families Heal

By | December 2nd, 2016

Joan and Bob Shuck could not possibly have prepared themselves
for what happened to their son, Daniel, a high school senior, athlete
and honor student. In May, just weeks before graduation, Daniel
developed a viral infection that caused his heart valves to fail and
severely damaged his heart muscle.

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The Shuck Family at the Family House

Daniel was flown to Philadelphia for treatment from the hospital
near their home in Bethlehem, Pa. When he was deemed strong
enough, he was placed at the top of the organ transplant waitlist
because of his urgent need. Daniel received his gift of life, a heart
transplant, on August 9th.

During Daniel’s hospitalization, Joan and Bob stayed at the Family
House. The affordability was important to the Shucks, who were
with us for over four months. “It helped tremendously,” says Joan.
When Daniel was stable, the Shucks would eat dinner at the Family
House and then return to the hospital. They are very thankful for
the Home Cook Heroes volunteers who prepared and served the
meals. As it turned out, staff from the hospital where Daniel was
being treated made dinner one night.

“We didn’t feel like we were a burden on anybody, we felt welcomed –
like we were family. It’s a place you can relax, as much as you can
relax with what’s on your mind.” explains Bob.

Knowing that his parents’ needs were being met put Daniel’s mind at
ease and helped in his care. “They were able to be with me and focus
on what I needed.” Later on when he stayed at the Family House
himself, he says it was a great experience. “I absolutely loved it at the
Family House. Everybody greeted me like I had been there for months.”

Now Daniel is working to build up his strength so that next year he
can attend the University of Scranton, which granted him a deferment
due to his health crisis. He’ll be entering a five-year master’s degree
program in Occupational Therapy. “I enjoy knowing that someday
I can help people like me get back to doing all the things that they
like to do.”

Help families like the Shuck’s and give the gift of home this holiday season by making a generous donation.

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Give the Gift of Home this Season

By | November 17th, 2016

Sometimes life is incredibly hard for the families of transplant patients. Elsy and Walter Atencio should know.

Their 12-year-old twin daughters, Sofia and Stefani, are both going through transplant journeys. Five years ago, they were diagnosed with Childhood Interstitial Lung Disease (chILD), a rare respiratory disorder. The Atencios bravely faced the worst-case scenario when doctors determined that both their daughters would need lung transplants.

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Sofia & Stefani at the Family House.

Sofia received her gift of life this past April and is doing well. Stefani is listed for transplant and is still waiting.

Thanks to compassionate individuals, like you, we are able to provide a warm and caring “home away from home” for the Atencios and other families who live far away from the transplant centers where their loved ones are undergoing treatment.

“When it is really hard for you, it makes you feel good to have so many people there to help,” says Elsy about her stay at the Family House.

Being away from home can be scary, stressful and lonely for transplant families who already have so much to worry about. But with your help, we are able to provide them with peace of mind in the form of affordable accommodations, home-cooked meals, transportation and emotional support.

“We were really happy to have this place. It was a blessing for us,” adds Elsy.

Read A Letter From Elsy Antencio to learn more about the Antencio’s journey.

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A Letter From Elsy Atencio

By | November 11th, 2016

Dear Friend of the Family House,

I’m Elsy Atencio, the proud mother of beautiful identical twin daughters, Sofia and Stefani, who are 12. When they were little, it was hard to tell them apart. One time they even fooled their teacher into thinking one was the other.

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Elsy with her daughters Sofia and Stefani

When Sofia turned seven, she stopped growing. She also developed a cough and trouble breathing. The doctors thought she had asthma, but she was later diagnosed with Childhood Interstitial Lung Disease. Stefani was also tested and found to have this disease.

Our family was devastated to learn that both Sofia and Stefani would eventually need lung transplants in order to live. The thought of organ transplants never crossed my mind. The whole idea of someone in our own family needing a transplant was completely unimaginable.

After 15 months of anxiously waiting, we got the call this past Easter that a donor match had been found for Sofia. My husband Walter and I rushed her to Philadelphia and she received her life-saving transplant within hours. We are very thankful for the donor family that made this miracle possible for us.

Eight days later, Sofia was allowed to leave the hospital and stay with us at the Family House. But just when Sofia was getting better, Stefani got sick and had to be hospitalized in Philadelphia. Thankfully, Stefani was also able to stay with us at the Family House when she got better. I can’t tell you how grateful we were to have the support of the people at the Family House at a time when life was so hard for us.

During the three weeks that we stayed at the Family House, the staff made sure we had everything we needed. We met many wonderful people there and it helped a lot that they truly understood what we were going through. Our girls enjoyed arts and crafts and spent as much time in the game room as we would let them. Sofia used the treadmill in the exercise room. It was wonderful to see her getting stronger.

Our son, Steven, who is 20, is a great older brother. He works, goes to college, and spends lots of time helping us make sure Sofia and Stefani are happy. When our girls turned 12 in September, I thought to myself, ‘Where did the time go!’ They giggle a lot and enjoy playing jokes on each other.

Sofia loves being back in school and has made new friends. She likes to draw and make crafts. She really enjoyed staying at the Family House and still talks about how much fun she had making Mickey Mouse pancakes with her dad in the big kitchen there.

Stefani is home-schooled because she needs to be on oxygen all the time. Her favorite subject is math. She loves sports and can’t wait to play soccer when she is well. We hope Stefani’s gift of life comes soon. We are so relieved to know that we can stay at the Family House when it does.

The Family House is such a wonderful place — and affordable, too. We always feel welcome there. Please help share this blessing with other transplant families this holiday season.

Sincerely,

Elsy

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Give the Gift of Home this Season. Through the generosity and support of our contributors, Gift of Life Family House is able to provide a “home away from home” for transplant patients and their families. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Gift of Life Family House today! Together, we can make a difference in the lives of thousands of transplant families.

 

7 Ways to Help Support the Family House this Fall.

By | October 19th, 2016

40 Hours for the Family House Challenge. This fall kicks off the annual 40 Hours for the Family House challenge — a unique online fundraiser to support transplant patients and their families at Gift of Life Family House.  It all starts at 8:00am on #GivingTuesday, November 29th — and only lasts 40 hours! It’s simple, fun and a great way to give back this holiday season. It only takes a few minutes to sign up, click here to get started.

Support the Adopt-A-Family Program. Consider making a tax-deductible gift to the Adopt-A-Family Program – each $40 contribution helps support one night of lodging for a family staying at the Family House who cannot afford the nightly fee. You can contribute to sponsor one night, two nights, a weekend or more. Gifts of any level are meaningful. To make a charitable gift to the Family House, or to volunteer, please use the enclosed envelope or visit us online at www.GiftofLifeFamilyHouse.org.

Host an Event! From golf outings to intimate dinners in your home, there are countless ways you, your family, and friends can fundraise for the Family House. Fundraising events are also a great way to reconnect with family and friends and remember or celebrate a loved one while supporting our important mission.

Become a Home Cook Hero! Groups of up to 10 people can provide, prepare (on or off site) and serve a meal to guests staying at the Family House. Enjoy cooking in our fully equipped kitchen as well as seeing the impact of your service on our families first-hand.

Host a Wish List Drive! Keeping the Family House stocked with basic home necessities – such as food, toiletries, and pantry items – requires a lot of donated items. This is an excellent activity to involve your family, company, religious group, or friends. You can also collect grocery store gift cards to keep our refrigerators stocked with the things we run out of most – milk, eggs and butter! The Family House is also in need of gas cards to keep our free shuttle service operational – transporting patients and families to and from local hospitals each day.

Join the Legacy Society for Planned Giving. By making a “planned gift” – a gift through your estate – you can ensure the future success of Gift of Life Family House and have the satisfaction of knowing that your values will live on through the loving care we provide.

Be a Corporate Partnerships. Through volunteerism, sponsorship, grants and program support, hundreds of corporations have partnered with Gift of Life Family House to support transplant patients and their families. In return, corporations receive unique recognition, brand visibility through our various communications tools and social media platforms as well opportunities for employee team building events and ways to engage and reconnect with clients. If your business or corporation is interested in supporting programs or other initiatives at Gift of Life Family House, we would be happy to help create a mutually beneficial partnership.

 

Achieving Balance as a Caregiver

By | October 19th, 2016

 

Coping with an organ transplant is something that families may encounter at any point in their lives.  Taking responsibility for the day to day care of the patient while also having to tend to your usual obligations can be a daunting task, especially if you’re thrown into the role of caregiver rather suddenly.  No matter the situation, it is important to maintain a sense of balance in your life, so that you can perform all tasks to the best of your ability.  Listed below are 3 tips for achieving balance in your life as a caregiver (and as a person).

  1. Stay organized – When you have so many obligations to attend to in any given week, it is easy for some to get overlooked. Planners are a great way to keep track of your schedule so that you never miss a doctor’s visit, bill, a special event or even self-care practices.  Ones can be bought at any drug store and there are several free online planners such as Google Calendar which can send you reminders before an appointment begins.
  2. Identify your network of support – Juggling all the aspects of caregiving on top of your usual responsibilities is no easy task. Keeping a list of names with contact information can help if you need to change around your schedule, have any questions, or feel like you just need someone to talk to. Some name to consider listing: doctors, nurses, and social workers, your employer, insurance contacts, and any close friends, family, and neighbors.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help. During the transplant process, some relationships with friends and family may fade out while others become stronger.  Learning who you can rely on can come in handy any time you feel overwhelmed or just need a break.  Lastly, locating support from others who have been through a similar situation is important. You can find online and in-person support groups on our Caregiver Lifeline webpage of the Family House website.
  3. Take time each day to practice self-care – Even taking a few moments to do some deep breaths can be beneficial in helping to cope with stress and in preparing for or unwinding from a hectic day. If you already have a hobby you enjoy, such as journaling, exercising, or reading, try to block out a period of time each day to do that (and put it in your calendar!).  Keeping up with an activity you enjoy can help not just in relieving stress, but also in maintaining your personal identity as a caregiver and as an individual.

For more information about support groups and self-care visit the Caregiver Lifeline Program webpage on the Gift of Life Family House website, or reach out to our social worker, Talia Giordano at caregiverlifeline@giftoflifefamilyhouse.org.

 

Celebrating our 5-year journey

By | September 16th, 2016

The Family House rounds out a ‘circle of care’ for transplant patients and families

Our ‘home away from home’ has helped thousands find peace of mind, and hope.

‘Where does a polar bear keep his money?” teases 5-year-old Amelia Torgersen to our reception desk staff who have been eagerly awaiting her arrival. “In the snow bank,” she answers and giggles.

Every time Amelia comes running into the Gift of Life Family House with her parents, Bonnie and Brian, she immediately looks for the smiling faces she has come to know and trust. She brings her latest stuffed “friend” and asks that it be given a yellow wristband ID, just like hers.

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It’s hard to believe that bouncy, fun-loving Amelia had a liver transplant just nine months ago, or that she is now undergoing chemotherapy for PTLD (Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder), a complication that can occur after transplant. Amelia has struggled since birth with Alagille syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by abnormalities to the bile ducts that harm the liver and can affect other parts of the body. The genetic defect that causes Alagille can be inherited, or occur randomly.

          Amelia had heart and kidney surgeries, even before her liver started to fail. At that point, the Torgersens relocated from their home in Nashville, Tenn. through Brian’s employer — first to Florida and then to Pittsburgh. They wanted to be as close as possible to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and its renowned Alagille Syndrome Clinical Care Program, and for her transplant surgery.

Not one to complain, Amelia now bravely faces too many ‘ouchies’ during chemotherapy, but looks forward to staying at the Family House where our staff make her feel special.

Five years of caring

On July 11th, Gift of Life Family House celebrated its fifth year of serving transplant patients and their families receiving care at one of the eight transplant centers in Greater Philadelphia. In this short time, we have served more than 1,300 transplant families, many of whom have stayed with us several times over the course of their loved one’s care. In total, we’ve provided over 33,000 room nights of comfort.

“At first, we didn’t know if it was going to work,” says founder and CEO, Howard Nathan, reflecting back on the leap of faith that brought together benefactors, board members, health care providers, government agencies, and other supporters to help build a “house” for patients and families going through the transplant process.

Thoward-cover-photooday, the success of the Family House is evident. “I ask almost every day about occupancy. It makes me proud when 28 out of our 30 rooms are filled. It reminds me that we did the right thing, that the need that’s desperately there is being met.

“I think what sets us apart is our staff members who are there, available, and who care 24/7,” notes Howard. “I think that families understand that and are touched by it.”

The Torgersens agree. When Amelia came to stay at the Family House after her liver transplant in December, she was drawn to the kid-size Adirondack chairs on our patio. But because it was cold and snowy, she couldn’t sit outside. When they came to stay in the spring, Amelia’s first thought was to run outside to sit in ‘her’ chair, but the chairs weren’t there, explains Brian. “So we go inside to Diana Elbanna (resident manager) and Amelia says, ‘Miss Diana, where are the little tiny girl chairs?’ And Diana says, ‘They’re not out there?’ So there was this brief commotion over the chairs. The next week, guess what, the little tiny girl chairs were there.”amelia-in-chair

Adds Bonnie, “Even on the days that are difficult for Amelia, she talks about sitting in ‘her’ chair. And so the patio is somewhere we can go with her at the end of the day where she has a little time to sit in her chair and just relax and refuel for the next day.”

Whether it’s having access to a fully stocked pantry and tasty leftovers if they miss the evening meal, or toiletries they forgot to pack, the Family House is a safe and comforting haven for them. “We don’t lack for anything there,” says Bonnie.

 

Rounding out a ‘circle of care’

A ‘circle of care’ for transplant patients and families begins when a person with end-stage organ failure is listed for transplant. The list is national and Gift of Life Donor Program works with its partners around the country to find willing donor families and viable organs.

“The reality is that the number of people who can donate is very small. Only about 1 to 2 percent of all of the people who pass away can be considered as potential organ donors,” explains Howard, who has been with Gift of Life Donor Program since 1978 and is its President and CEO. “In our region, out of about 40,000 people who die each year in the 129 hospitals we serve, there are only approximately 800 who could be potential organ donors. That’s why there’s a shortage. It’s not because people are unwilling. It’s because the number who are medically suitable is very small.

“This year we’ll have over 500 organ donors and more than 1,300 people receiving transplants in our region. That doesn’t sound like a big number, but it’s the largest anywhere in the United States, probably the world, for any one region.”

Gift of Life Donor Program is responsible for working with the transplant teams to preserve the organs and safely transport them to waiting surgeons, patients, and families. The Family House takes care of families while their loved ones are waiting to be transplanted, during recovery, and throughout post-transplant care. While other transplant houses typically serve one transplant center, the Family House serves all eight centers in its vicinity. “That’s pretty unique, and I’m very proud of that,” says Howard.

In addition to affordable lodging, home-cooked meals, and transportation, the Family House also provides education, counseling, and emotional support through its Caregiver Lifeline Program. The first of its kind, this program provides a supportive network and educational services specifically tailored to the needs of organ transplant patients, family members and caregivers — those staying at the Family House as well as those living in the broader community.

For the Torgersens, the Family House is a “tool in a toolbox” to make life easier. “When you’re at that point of fear and anxiety — things that come with the unknown — there’s somebody that’s got your back. It doesn’t make anybody’s individual situation better, their difficulties are going to be just as challenging, but to know somebody’s got your back is meaningful.” explains Brian.

Making every day count

When traveling down the long and winding road of caring for a chronically ill loved one, it is easy to lose focus on the everyday things that give life meaning.

“We had to work very hard to give Amelia what we feel is the best quality of life: That is, to step away from the clinical side of things and remember that she’s a little girl — and take her to the beach, take her to Disney, take her to the park. Sometimes with the medical side of things, you almost want to put life on hold — until transplant, or until she’s done with chemo, or things like that,” explains Bonnie.

For Amelia’s fifth birthday, at her request, the family went camping. When the weather turned warm, they packed Amelia’s medical gear, along with their camping gear, and headed out to Allegheny National Forest. “Amelia is definitely an outdoor girl,” laughs Bonnie. “We gave her a choice of going out on a boat or hiking. She picked hiking. She had a little walking stick. She kept saying, ‘I’m the leader, follow the leader.’ She loves to explore. She enjoyed studying the rocks, the different leaves, and trees. That’s her happy place.”

Adds Brian: “She doesn’t understand life. As far as she knows, it’s kind of rough, because it’s always been rough. But she’s a fun, loving spirit that when you’re around her you just smile. And you don’t do it because she said something funny; you do it because she’s this sweet, beautiful thing.”

Although they have health insurance, the Torgersens have faced substantial out-of-pocket costs, since Amelia’s birth, for medications, medical supplies, formula for her tube feedings, and travel to and from Philadelphia. “By the time you put all of the pieces together, it’s a costly process,” says Brian.

Securing the Family House’s future

“Each year, we have to raise about $1.7 to $1.8 million dollars just to keep the doors open,” notes Howard. Driving the need for funds is the Family House’s commitment to maintaining a low nightly rate of $40 even though the actual cost for providing all of the included services is $165 per room per night. Each room accommodates up to four people. Families who can’t afford the nightly fee are given subsidies. “We don’t turn anyone away because of their inability to pay,” adds Howard.

The Family House depends on charitable contributions, large and small, to make this possible. “Last year we had over 2,300 individuals or organizations give us charitable contributions. I wish I could name them all. We’ve even had grade school kids hold fundraisers and collect money at school. Businesses will do dress-down days and collect $5 from everybody wearing blue jeans. Those combined gifts of $200, $300, they help.”

The Family House works, adds Howard, because of neighbors helping neighbors, whether through charitable contributions or by volunteering.

“Every time I walk through the door at the Family House, it really makes me proud of our team, of the families who are courageous in going through transplantation, and our volunteers. When I meet our Home Cook Heroes — many of whom are transplant families — and our other volunteers, I am truly grateful. We simply couldn’t do it without them.”

To make a charitable gift to the Family House, or to volunteer, please use the enclosed envelope or visit us online at www.GiftofLifeFamilyHouse.org.

Stay tuned over the next few months as Gift of Life Family House unveils a special way that you, your family and friends can celebrate 5 years of the Family House!

 

 

 

 

Can I eat that now? Nutrition Tips After Organ Transplant

By | August 18th, 2016

Malnutrition prior to transplant is common amongst most end-stage organ diseases. Prior to transplant, most patients have to follow dietary restrictions due to the limitation of their organs. Having a transplant will alleviate some of those dietary restrictions and bring improved quality of life. Contrary to some medical advice, a transplant patient cannot “eat whatever they want.”

The immunosuppressant medication that is taken to protect the new organ may cause some nutrition-related complications, which may require new or additional dietary restrictions. Some of these complications include diabetes or NODAT (new onset of diabetes after transplant), excessive weight gain, hypertension (high blood pressure) and hyperlipidemia. The cause of NODAT is multifactorial, which can include, but is not limited to, factors such as the post-transplant medication regimen, age, weight status and family history. The onset of NODAT can be delayed or prevented by practicing a few healthy habits. Monitoring your blood glucose level is a critical step in knowing your risk for DM; this should be done with each post-transplant doctor visit. Your doctor can check a hemoglobin A1C level; this test gives a three month average of your blood sugar. A number greater than or equal to 6.5% indicates a diagnosis of NODAT.

Take control of your diet by limiting foods that contain added sugars such as sweets, desserts, and sugar-sweetened beverages. Instead, choose foods that contain whole grains and that are lower in calories and fat. By making these healthy food choices and exercising on a regular basis, you can maintain a healthy weight and assist in delaying diabetes.

For more resources and nutritional tips post-transplant, please visit our Caregiver Lifeline Program webpage at www.GiftofLifeFamilyHouse.org. Caregiver Lifeline Spotlight by Carlene N. Bowen, RD, LDN, CNSC, registered dietitian, Jefferson Transplant Institute Excessive weight gain is common in the transplant population; this can be caused when dietary restrictions are eliminated thus liberalizing the diets. Also, some medication can cause an increase in appetite, which leads to over-eating of not so healthy foods. Choose foods that are fresh and minimally processed, which include whole grains, lean meats, lowfat dairy products, fruits and vegetables. Ongoing nutrition education and regular physical activity are two key components in preventing excessive weight gain. Weight management programs such as Weight Watchers can help a patient to lose weight and to maintain a healthy diet.

Hypertension is a common side effect of immunosuppressant medications. A diet that is low to moderate in sodium (2,000 – 3,000 milligrams/day), along with weight management and exercise may help in the management of high blood pressure. Medication may be required if the blood pressure remains elevated, despite having a healthy lifestyle. Choose foods that are made from scratch and limit use of pre-made or boxed foods. If you use canned foods, choose those that are labeled as “no added salt” or “low sodium.”

Hyperlipidemia is also a common side effect from some of the immunosuppressant medications that are prescribed. Limiting fats in your diet can help to lower your risk of heart disease. Choose lean meats, poultry, and fish or beans, peas, nuts, or seeds. Cook using low-fat methods like baking, broiling, or steaming. It is also necessary that you reduce the amount of fat and oil you use, as well as use healthier oils like canola or olive oil.

In addition to following a healthy diet, it is important for post-transplant patients to use precaution to avoid foodborne illness by selecting, cooking and storing your food. Some of the basic rules include avoiding undercooked meats, poultry, eggs, raw fish – such as sushi or sashimi – and raw milk or unpasteurized dairy products. Avoid herbal supplements and any over-the-counter medications that were not prescribed by your transplant team.

The registered dietitian (RD) at your transplant program is a great resource for food safety and nutrition information after transplant. If your program doesn’t have a RD, you can find one using the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) website www.eatright.org under the section “Find an Expert.”

 

Ashley and Bobby Adams

By | August 18th, 2016

“We are indescribably grateful for the Family House and how positively it has affected the outcome of our situation. Without the Family House, it would have been very difficult for Ash to be with me every single day, both financially and logistically. Without her unyielding emotional support and care, I wouldn’t be as well off as I am today. Guaranteed. And without the support and the positive environment of the Family House, Ash wouldn’t have been as available and emotionally present for me. The Family House truly is a ‘home away from home’!” – Bobby Adams

On March 20, 2015, Bobby and Ashley Adams of Bordentown, NJ were newly married and Bobby had just received his precious gift of life, a double lung transplant. Yet there were many events that led to these miraculous events.

Bobby Adams grew up with the privilege of enjoying a healthy, care-free lifestyle. He had always enjoyed doing things outdoors, such as camping, hiking, snowboarding, and mountain biking. In January of 2015, that came to an abrupt and unexpected halt. Bobby started feeling very sick and, with symptoms only worsening, Ashley took him to the local emergency room. Neither of them had any idea that Bobby would be hospitalized for the next three and a half months – the majority of which were in critical condition.

When Bobby was first admitted to the hospital, he was quickly intubated and placed on a ventilator for life support. His lungs were failing, fast. The cause of his lung failure was unexpected.

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After being diagnosed with Acute Interstitial Pneumonia and ARDS, Bobby was placed on ECMO, an additional type of life support, which oxygenates the blood. He was then placed into a drug-induced coma while doctors worked around the clock to try to save his life. While in this coma, doctors broke the news to Ashley that Bobby’s only chance at survival would be to receive a double lung transplant.

Ashley felt like she was living a nightmare. Nothing felt real. Within a few days of being informed about the need for Bobby to receive a transplant, a social worker at the hospital told her about Gift of Life Family House. She didn’t know much about the Family House at the time, but she knew she was grateful to not have to pay thousands of dollars for a hotel room in the city with her mom, or sleep on a friend’s couch anymore. The Family House was a very affordable alternative. What she quickly learned, however, is that besides not having to worry about the expense of lodging, the Family House also provided her with hot meals, cooked by people who really wanted to help, rides to and from the hospital, and the opportunity to meet some amazing people who understood the frightening reality of what Ashley was dealing with; including House guests, volunteers, and staff.

The 2015 Gift of Life Family House President’s Reception took place the same day that Bobby was listed for a lung transplant. At that time, Ashley and her mom were in attendance at the reception as Family House guests. For this year’s President’s Reception – honoring the Founders’ Circle and 2015 Family Circle members – Ashley and Bobby were invited back to the house – not only to share their incredible story with event attendees, but also to celebrate their one year wedding anniversary and Bobby’s first ‘Transplant-a-versary’. They were honored to be there with some of the most generous supporters of the Family House and to share the miraculous conclusion of their incredible transplant journey.

Just two days after being listed for a transplant, Ashley and Bobby decided to get married right then and there, bedside in the hospital ICU. Moments before their wedding ceremony, doctors came in to the room to give them the incredible news: they had a prospective donor for Bobby! After everything that had happened in the months leading up to this point, for two such miraculous things to happen in one day seemed to Ashley a sign that everything would be okay after all.

Ashley and Bobby couldn’t have been happier on that particular day in March of 2015. Within a few days, Bobby had a new bride, new lungs, a new life. Bobby is now back to work, grateful for a little more normalcy and enjoying many of the things he still loves to do. All the while, the newlyweds are incredibly grateful for Bobby’s donor and his family for making the selfless decision to choose organ donation, which allowed for Bobby’s life-saving transplant. And the couple is also indescribably grateful for the Family House and how it positively affected the outcome of their situation – and which is only made possible by all of its wonderful supporters, especially its generous Founders’ and Family Circle members.

 

 

 
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