My name is Steve and I've lived for 50 years with cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis patients usually develop very thick mucus in our lungs, harboring infections which create scar tissue.  This tissue gradually builds up to a point that our lungs cease to function properly.

When I was listed for transplant in September 1997, my lung capacity was about 10% of a normal person's. I was on oxygen around the clock. I was on countless medications and required chest physical therapy. For four treatments totaling eight hours every single day for three years, someone was pounding on my chest, and pounding hard enough that we broke ribs 6 times in those three years.  I waited on the list for almost three years. I had four false alarms before that call on April 8th.

My first dinner at home after my transplant, I sat at the table with my family. After dinner, and for little apparent reason, I started to cry.  It had just dawned on me that we didn't have to get up and go pound on my chest.

Nowadays, I open my eyes in the morning, stretch and take a breath. I no longer hear my chest gurgling! It's been just over ten years, and I still walk around in complete awe of how this feels!   After three years off, I was back at work 10 weeks after my surgery. There is a double flight of stairs from the trading floor to my offices that I hadn't climbed in 10 years. I didn't even go DOWN them in the last five years. Now, every chance I get, I bound up those stairs two steps at a time. And every time I get to the top I smile, because I know who got me there, my lung donor Kari.

I've been in contact with Kari's family and friends for almost eight years.  Hearing stories about Kari and seeing so many pictures has brought her so much closer to my heart.

Kari was a leader on her high-school volleyball team. When Kari passed, her school retired her number, 13. The following year, which would have been Kari's senior year, her team dedicated their season to her. Her teammates created a beautiful  t-shirt in her honor. They gave Kari's family a few of the shirts they created.  On Kari's 19th birthday, her Mom sent me one of the shirts which I wear with pride at athletic events.

Kari and her family are my heroes - Kari saved my life!

For more information on Steve, you can visit his blog

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