There’s something very special about organ transplants: the incredible odds of finding a match, the mind-boggling skill and technology required for the procedure, the compassion and sacrifice of the donor, and the courage of the recipient. For 15 years, transplant nurse Mary Saubert has borned witness to that magic. Her new book, “My Christmas Miracles and Other Stories about Organ Transplant,” is a collection of the most inspiring of those magical moments.
After shifts, Saubert would transcribe the moving experiences that happened on the job. “I would think of something that occurred during that shift that really impacted me, like the courage of a particular patient,” she said. And from those moving moments grew a book. She writes in the preface, “Their stories are all true. Some are sad, some are funny, but all of them show how precious life is.”
The story of Melody struck Saubert as especially poignant. Melody had pulmonary fibrosis and hypertension; she was dying and she needed new lungs. Not only did her unusually high antibody levels make finding a match difficult, but she needed to lose weight in order to undergo the operation. A challenge for people with healthy lungs, Melody took on weight loss with inspirational perseverance.
But even after losing the weight, Melody still could not find a donor. She became sicker and sicker; her face began to turn purple and she was losing circulation in her legs.
When a match was found, Melody was delirious from a lack of oxygen. But the operation was a success, and Melody hasn’t been back to the hospital since. In her book, Saubert describes Melody’s life after surgery – traveling with her husband and camping with her grandchildren.
So what can these patients teach us? According to Saubert, “They have truly learned to use every moment wisely, because you don’t know what will happen to you tomorrow.”