A friend of mine who just celebrated the fifth anniversary of his double-lung transplant told me he was celebrating by entering a Triathlon race Sunday. His story and the one in this article are wonderful examples of how organ transplant and cancer survivors can transform their lives with new hope for living and the future.
(ABC 6 News) --
After a fall, getting back on your bike is a little bit difficult, but after cancer and a liver transplant you can only imagine the challenge.
George Bollinger's story of getting back to life and back on his bike is a tale of ups and downs. "It's a real roller coaster ride,"said Bollinger.
He was an active biker who peddled over 100 miles a week, but he was forced to put on the brakes after a routine blood donation showed that he was sick.
"I found out that I had a disease called PSC, and Cholangiocarcinoma, which is bile duct cancer." He was in need of a liver, but due to the cancer he was not healthy enough to go through surgery.
"To see someone who was very athletic and into doing a lot of things it's very hard to see them get and not do anything," said Carla Bollinger, George's wife of 37 years.
In 2004 after 4 years or radiation and chemotherapy, he was found cancer free and given a second chance at life when he received a new liver. "I wondered what life would be like afterwards," said Bollinger
George says his nurse Barb Braun never let him forget his active personality. "Barb was with me from the start." Braun wanted to help Bollinger get back on his bike seat again.
"He showed me a picture of when he was biking at home and said Barb am I ever going to get back to this."She decided a bike ride with her patient would be a great start.
"She challenged me last year to do a 100 mile bike ride and it kind of spurred me to get back on my bike,"said Bollinger.
Carla Bollinger says that at first her husband was unsure if he could do it, after being sick for so long. "He said well I might be able to get on my bike again I said the only way is to do it."
After a bit of training George Bollinger set out on a 60 mile bike ride around Rochester. Barb Braun is happy she was able to share it with him. "To really get to see the end result, and be part of this is truly a privilege."
For George this ride is not for himself, but for those still waiting for that second chance. "I wanted to send this message to them it's not about me this is for them."
Braun hopes others follow in his footsteps. "What we can do to support and inspire others to do the same."
Bollinger and Braun completed their 61 mile ride today in just over 5 hours. They are hoping they can do another ride like this again, if not annually.
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Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You