Submitted by: Tamara Wolcott Fisher
Tamara Wolcott Fisher
In a world where everything seems instant, Lisa Swafford is waiting patiently for a second life-saving kidney transplant. She received two transplants, both kidney and pancreas, in 2008 from a deceased donor. The donated kidney was predicted to function from eight to 10 years; Swafford’s lasted eight years to the exact date.
Swafford, a member of the Calhoun, Ga., Church, developed Type 1 diabetes as a child, and suffered many complications, including blindness and failure of both her pancreas and kidney. With Type 1 diabetes, the body cannot make insulin. The immune system attacks and destroys the pancreas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 29.1 million people, or 9.3 percent of the population, have diabetes, with 27.8 percent undiagnosed.
Swafford has been on dialysis for about 10 months, going Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for three and a half hours each day. She is on the national donor waiting list through the United Network for Organ Sharing (https://www.unos.org/). She has had 10 to 12 people come forward willing to donate, but they were not accepted for vaious reasons. Her boyfriend of seven years, Jeff Bender, has offered to donate. While they are not an exact match, Bender could donate to someone else and Swafford would then receive a kidney from another matched donor.
Swafford says, “We are looking for people who are type O, and we wouldn’t have to wait. That would be ideal. I’ve been on Facebook, and was not successful. We have tried word of mouth. I did find a lady on Facebook who is willing to connect people. She was on Good Morning America. We need to create a media awareness, like this article.”
Swafford said her life was blessed after the 2008 transplant. She was able to help serve others, like volunteering at the local food bank. She could go on a hike, something she loves. A shy person, Swafford even publicly told her story hoping to help others suffering from diabetes. She rode her bike with the Tour de Cure in Atlanta, Ga. Sometimes she would raise more than $1,000 to help fight diabetes. She said, “It was the first time I had felt good since I was a child. I forgot what it felt like to feel good.”
The statistics are sobering for organ donation, and while Swafford is at peace with God at whatever the outcome, she wants to live life to the fullest. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, every 10 minutes someone is added to the national transplant list. They say that 22 people die every day waiting for a transplant, but just one organ donor could save eight lives.
Swafford claims Philippians 4:13, saying, “I can do all things, I can endure all things. I would love to have a kidney, but that may not be His plan. I am trying to do the things that happen when doors open. I am okay trusting in Jesus. He can see the big picture.”
Swafford’s father, John Swafford, is pleased with the transplant center at Emory Healthcare. He said, “If it could be possible to restore that life and energy again for Lisa, it would be a great blessing to you (Lisa) and our whole family.”
Swafford is not alone; there are many out there who are waiting. For more information on how to become a donor, check out www.emoryhealthcare.org.
Georgia-Cumberland | May 2017