My American Hero

Published 1:42 am Wednesday, April 16, 2003

By By WARREN SIMPSON / Ring Lardner Middle School student
Heroes are not appointed; they become heroes in their own unique way.
Some people become heroes by chance, others by choice. They may receive a medal, or a plaque, but the real satisfaction comes from knowing they helped someone.
My hero did not receive that recognition. He became my hero, and likely a hero to many others, by signing an organ donation card.
It was a simple, yet courageous act of generosity.
When I was born, I had a birth defect. That birth defect jeopardized my life. My aortic valve in the heart was completely blocked, which prevented my heart from pumping blood through my body efficiently. After an immediete surgery to open my valve, my heart functioned better, but not nearly like a normal heart. Now instead of being blocked it was leaking, which was almost as bad, but at least I could live until I was strong enough to have it repaired.
The doctors told my parents that in the near future my valve would have to be replaced. At that time, there were only two options: One, to have an artificial valve; or two, to have a pig's valve replace mine.
In either case I would be forced to take blood thinners for the rest of my life. I would also have to have my valve replaced with larger valves until I stopped growing, which could have meant many more operations.
By the time I was five, my valve was leaking so badly, I tired very easily. I could only participate in a few physical activities. Luckily, a third option had become available to me. WIth the new option of the Ross Procedure, I could get my valve replaced without future operations or the constant use of blood thinners. This shined new hope on my life for my family and myself.
With this hope came the knowledge that another family had suffered a tragic loss, and that they had to make a decision to honor the wishes of their loved one. With that extreme generosity, I have a new lease on life. Because of this gift, I can now play soccer and hockey, skateboard with my friends, and live a normal life. Though my donor is nameless and faceless, I thank them dearly for my life.
They will forever be a hero in my heart.