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Stories of hope

Heather Hazlett of Waxhaw, NC

Heather Hazlette

My path in life took a bit of a twist when I was just 2 years old and diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. As I grew up I never imagined I would find myself the way I am today. For my incredible miracles because of selfless donation I am forever grateful!

In my junior year of college I lost most of the sight in my right eye leaving me with my left eye to depend on for my vision. In 2005 a series of ulcers left a corneal scar on my left eye and I was virtually unable to see. On July 27, 2005 I received my first miracle the gift of sight. After just a few short months I not only regained my sight, but had better vision than I did initially! Since then I have tried to capture every moment in pictures so I can look at them over and over again because of this incredible gift that someone I will never know gave to me. For my vision I am forever grateful!

As I was going through eye issues and my corneal transplant I was also on dialysis for kidney failure. I went on dialysis in August of 2000 and was listed for a kidney and pancreas transplant in July 2001. Dialysis was a tough rood to travel with many struggles to overcome. I was on both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis at some point during my years of dialysis. There were infections and access complications especially during the first couple of years I was on dialysis. By this time I was on an insulin pump checking my blood sugar five times a day minimally. Kidney failure made managing my diabetes extra difficult. My blood sugars would suddenly drop unexpectedly and all too often while I was sleeping. I had to set an alarm to make sure I would wake up by a certain time hoping and praying I would wake up. Those were some of the scariest moments of my life!

When I was listed at the first transplant center we found out that I was a very difficult match with an O- blood type and high antibodies. It had to be an extra special donor who could be my match. At the initial center I was told to expect a 3.5 year wait. I did get a few calls initially but for whatever reason it just was not possible to transplant those organs. After almost 6 years of waiting I decided to list at a second transplant center closer to home. I have to believe this was meant to be because just 10 days after I was placed on their list I got the call my moment, my miraculous day had arrived! Friday July 13, 2007 I received the precious gift of life! The emotions of that day are indescribable because it is every emotion you have ever felt. Joy, fear, happiness, sadness, excitement, worry and so many more all wrapped in one. The wait from 6 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon was far greater than the six years I had waited for this moment to arrive!

I woke up from anesthesia and was told that both organs were working. I was giddy with excitement and my doctor would later tell my parents I was almost manic talking up a storm! For the first time in my life that I could remember I was no longer a diabetic! I never dreamed I would be living a life without diabetes it’s an amazing life I had not known before that July day. I no longer had to go to my 3 times a week almost 4 hour dialysis sessions either. I was given the gift of life and the gift of freedom! I wish I could explain what it is like not to have to worry when I go to sleep at night, not to have to check blood sugars 5-10 times a day, not to have to adhere to a strict schedule. Because of my someone I never knew I spend my days living to the fullest!

Thank you hardly seems to be enough for having both my sight and my life restored! I honor and remember my two incredible heroes every day of my life! I share my story and my gratitude with the world each and every chance I get. I celebrate their lives and their memory every day and always! I AM FOREVER GRATEFUL!

Hand-drawn heart
Kidney, Pancreas, Stories

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