Transplant recipient celebrates ‘second chance’ during National Donate Life Month

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 7:24 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Barry Estep was diagnosed with a rare disease in 2016. Hepatopulmonary syndrome was impacting his liver and lungs, making it difficult to live his daily life.

“They basically told me that the only cure was a liver transplant,” Estep said.

He was informed by his doctor that the illness would kill him in around two years without a transplant. So, he waited.

“My next phone call may be mine. You know, you have to keep looking forward,” he said. “You have to have faith that things’ll work out.”

Estep received that call in September 2018, one month before that two-year mark was up. And he quickly went through with the transplant, giving him what he called his second chance at life.

“I’m well-blessed to be able to be sitting here today talking to you about it, because my time would have done expired,” he said. “But I also know there’s a family out there that lost a loved one so that my life could continue.”

Now, inching toward his three-year post-transplant mark, he hopes the family of his donor will one day reach out so he can thank them.

“I want them to know how thankful that I am to be able to be here talking,” he said. “Even though they’ve got a loved one that’s not with them, I’m still able to spend some time with my family and still spend a few more days here on this earth.”

He said he also made the decision to become an organ donor after realizing the need and he hopes others will do the same, which is why he took part in Monday’s “Pause to Give Life” ceremony at Pikeville Medical Center, raising the Donate Life flag in front of the hospital.

According to PMC CEO Donovan Blackburn, the need for donors is something the hospital hopes to highlight during April for National Donate Life Month.

“You’re giving somebody a second chance,” Blackburn said. “You’re making a wife, a grandbaby, a child... you’re really impacting them in ways that you can’t even imagine- knowing that their loved one is still here because of what you did.”

Blackburn said the power to give back when your life is over is a final act of compassion of which each person has the ability to be part.

Find more information about becoming a donor here.

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