Letter To The Author

I had a great start for my weekend, when I opened an email that I want to share with you.  Partners 4 Life was released in April 2014, in Donate Life month, which is April.  Obviously, as I have stated time and again, my greatest Partner was my Donor, Judy Murphy, and I will be honoring her again this year in April, with a special event honoring organ donors, in my custom picture frame shop, Windswept Frame & Art, McMurray, PA.  Many other medical and personal Partners were there for me as needed along my journey started in 2008, and transplanted in April of 2009.

Besides making it an easy read, the other major goal of my book was to help PF patients, like I was, and as the writer of this email was, and her message fills my heart with gratitude.  Keep The Faith, if you have this disease or any debilitating illness, maybe my book can help.  If you have PF, hopefully a transplant is possible for you as there still is no cure.

Here is the email:

My friend Peggy who lives in Pittsburgh met you last April 5th during one of
your speaking engagements.  She spoke with you about my transplant &
purchased a copy of your book which she just delivered to me yesterday.  I
wanted you to know how much I enjoyed reading your book; especially the
things you went through that matched my experiences so closely.  It’s hard
to explain the gratitude we feel for these wonderful miracles to anyone who
hasn’t actually been through the process from initial diagnosis to a
successful outcome.  As I meet others beginning their journey through the
transplant process I will be ordering copies of your book to share with
them.  I know it will help to calm them & always remember the importance of
positive thinking.  Thank you for putting a complicated disease into words
that are easy to digest & bringing hope to anyone who is unsure if the
decision to be put on a transplant list is the right choice.  Thank goodness
for the unselfish donors & their families!  – Camilla Camilli, Langhorne, PA

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Thanksgiving at The Family House

Had a chance to help out serving Thanksgiving Dinner at The Family House in Pittsburgh, with some CORE (Center for Organ Recovery & Education) volunteers and employees.  This is one of three homes in Pittsburgh for people with the need for an extended stay near UPMC, or other hospitals like the VA in Pittsburgh.  Everyone in the picture helped and it was a team effort, and I admittedly did the least, but talked with the patients and their caregivers while we served them the wonderful feast.

Thankful for the opportunity to do this this year and meet people I had not met before like the Donor family member next to me Kathy Osterrieder, whose husband was an organ donor.  I talked about my gratitude for my Donor and the relationship I have with my Donor family through the oldest son Travis.  Every Thanksgiving for me is one of gratitude thanks to the gift of life, from my Donor.  Keep The Faith


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That Special Corner of My Picture Frame Shop

If you come into to my custom picture frame shop this is what you see.  Lots of frames!  These are special for they tell my story of a double lung transplant through some newspaper articles, and special frames, the latest just added on the previous post.

Yes I talk about organ donation every day a customer comes to my store.



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Special Picture Frames For Special People and Causes

Those of you who know about organ transplants, like I had, know it is my feeling to get back into your life, and live it to the fullest, as I feel we owe that to our organ Donors. They are our greatest Partners 4 Life.  Mine, was a nurse, and in my frame shop, I literally talk about her every day.  A corner of my frame shop has picture frames telling my story, but more importantly telling the story of my Donor, Judy Murphy, as told to me by her oldest son Travis J. Murphy, as he does so well, in the chapter he wrote about her in my book, Partners 4 Life.

This frame with the purple mat (Judy’s favorite color), which has the picture of some of the transplant coordinators at UPMC, and a thank you note they gave me after my latest contribution.  My contributions are made in honor of my donor, who was a passionate nurse, so it is most fitting any funds I generate from sales of my book, or special frame shop promos go to this cause.  Lately, I have been taking money I earn repairing frames, and setting it aside for this cause.  I think of frame repairs as kind of a transplant for a frame, so to speak, so that justifies it for me and spreads awareness of transplants, when I relate that to customers.

The thanks you card tells of the 4 copies of the books purchased with those funds for the transplant nurses titled “Care Curriculum for Transplant Nurses” and inside the cover is the sticker, to the left,  The sticker on the left, has the Partners 4 Life logo from the book and reads “in memory of lung donor, Judy Murphy a nurse from Kansas an organ donor advocate”.

I am so incredibly blessed to spread her story every day.  Hey Jude!  Thanks, and because of you I Keep The Faith.

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Second Chance at Life

Here is a picture from yesterday when I played golf in a tournament called “The Mulligan”, which benefits Team Alleghenies for the US Transplant Games.  If you are a golfer, you know a mulligan is the chance to take a shot over. Well when you realize organ transplant patients are a mulligan of sorts, you understand the great name for this event.  What better way for me to enjoy a mulligan, at The Mulligan, then to play with my two oldest sons, Keith, Kevin and also my grandson, Koby at the event.  It was a great day!

Keep The Faith and enjoy your second chances, as when it comes to incurable diseases like PF, the only Mulligan comes from Organ Donors.  Play it wisely.

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NYC PF Awareness 5K Walk/Run

Yesterday I attended this event, like I did three years ago when my book, Partners 4 Life was just released.  This year marked the 10th anniversary of this event hosted by Terence Hale and held in Central Park, in the heart of NYC.  I had a special reason to attend this year, as Travis Murphy, the oldest son of my Donor now moved his family from DC, and lives in Harlem just north of Central Park.  He attended along with his wife Mandy, and their two wonderful children Ingrid and Walter, all I had met before.  A special bonus was his brother Tane, who came all the way from Wichita to join us for this event.  (Oh and also attend a Yankee game, which happens to be his favorite baseball team, and a real surprise, be a special guest with his big brother at the NBA draft held Thursday!)

Travis now works for the NBA and is involved in all kinds of cool things like the work the NBA is doing around the world developing players and their social and other skills.  I framed a jersey that Travis gave me and it generated a $1000 for PF research, through the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.  That was just part of the incredible money raised by this event, which totaled well over $100,000.  I had a Partners 4 Life, team supported by many and we exceeded our targeted goal, and I reached out to meet many attendees.

Two old friends were there too and that was Dr. Naftali Kaminski, and Tricia Black (much younger and prettier too), both formerly of the Simmons Center at UPMC. It was great seeing them, and having the chance to introduce my Donor family to them and many in attendance.  Neither had ever had that experience before and for lungs it is quite unique, and I am blessed in so many ways.  That relationship is explained in the book.

We all did the walk including Travis and Mandy’s two very well behaved dogs, “Loretta” and “Barbara”.  Because of Travis’s and Mandy’s work at the State Dept, their dogs have a pedigree that is International in scope, having come from Ecuador, lived in Corte d’Ivoire, Washington, DC and now think they and the kids have the greatest playground: Central Park.  Very cool!

Tane and I had not met before that day, and it was a great chance to chat and reminisce about their dear Mother, Judy, also from Kansas and my Donor 8 years ago in April. Travis wrote a chapter about her passions for, life, family, sports and nursing, and ironically organ donation and transplants.  A cerebral hemorrhage cut her life short at 51, but her lungs gave me a second chance at life and her passion for transplants lives on in me.  I am sure it showed yesterday.

What started out as a very wet rainy day, stopped and cleared and the day was beautiful all around like the smiles on the Murphys.

Hey Jude!  Thanks.  Keep The Faith.

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P4L Lung Transplant RN Education Fund

This picture is my presenting of the first Partners 4 Life check for this fund from me and in Honor of my Donor, Judy Murphy.  Judy was a passionate nurse and at 44 earned her Master’s Degree in Nursing, so she could teach other nurses and share her passion. Ironically, one of the focus points she taught them was the value of organ donation and transplants.  A cerebral hemorrhage cut her life short at the age of 51.  I learned this through her oldest son, Travis J. Murphy who wrote a chapter in my book about her life, passions and pleasures.

I feel sure she would like all of these nursing people from the UPMC Cardio-Thoracic Coordinator group, headed by Shelley Zomak, and Colleen Yost looking over my shoulder and two other of this groups members in Kim Myers and Larry Boggs.  They are all so important to the transplant recipient and monitor the test results, med issues and other physical and mental well being, and as a patient one needs to listen and follow their support.  As a patient you owe this to the most deserving of all partners, your Donor.

The money donated will help transplant RNs with their continuing education needs, and that would make my Donor, very proud according to her son, Travis.  This first check came mostly from sales at my custom picture frame shop, with a month long promotion in the month April which is National Donate Life month. I also donate all the profits from the sales of my book to Honor my Donor, as I have since the book was released 3 years ago.  I have other sources of related medical income revenue, to also help in future donations to this worthwhile cause for transplant nurses, which they certainly earn every time they extend their nursing skills for patients.  Keep The Faith.

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