Meet Alan Flanigan, heart and kidney recipient

One day, I received a message from Alan's wife, Nicole Flanigan. Her and I have connected through our passion of organ donation and spreading awareness. She began to share with me her story and how organ donation has been a huge impact in her family. That's when she told me about her husband, Alan Flanigan. Here is her story that she shared with me:


"Alan's first transplant was in October 2001, when he was only 18 years old. The rest of his friends were starting their freshman year of college and he was sitting at the Cleveland Clinic, waiting for a second chance at life. He chose not to inquire about his donor at that time and honestly he had a difficult time in the next few years."


Alan and Nicole had dated before his transplant in high school, and they had reconnected when he first got sick. Six years ago, they got married and had their daughter four and half years later, Reese Flanigan.


"We got an amazing 20 years out of his first gifted heart and always knew that another transplant would be necessary to see him through Reese's life."


Nicole and her family has been through a lot more than one could imagine as she lost her job and couldn't return to the Toledo area: "Transplant is emotionally stressful enough, and the financial stress would surpass that."


Nicole Flanigan continues to share her story:


"Anyway, this go around he had a dry run the week before his actual transplant. He was in the operating room and they called the surgery off before the aortas were different sizes. We also found out he had a match two days earlier but it fell through before they even took Alan to surgery."


Now this is where the magical moment comes into play....


"Then, we found out Friday, April 15 at 5 AM that there was a match, we just didn't know when the organ harvesting surgery would take place. By Saturday morning, they told us it would happen Sunday morning, which was Easter."


"Then, Saturday afternoon we received a call that there was an additional match. But this donor was an IV drug user and confirmed Hepatits C positive. We had agreed early on to possible hep C organs as it is now curable with usually a three month treatment with oral medication...We were lucky and the first donor was a go."


"For dual heart kidney transplants, they do the heart the first day and then the kidney the following day so he went into surgery at 9 AM on Sunday for the heart and 8 AM on Monday for the kidney and didn't come out of sedation until Wednesday morning at about 6 AM."


The Flanigan family is forever thankful for Alan's second chance at life and for their organ donation heroes as they continue to write to the family:


"Lastly, we have written a letter to our donor family but the way it works is after Alan is discharged. We submitted the letter to his transplant coordinator who then submits it to a different group, I can’t exactly remember, but I think like a UNOS affiliate. They will then send a letter to the donor family simply stating that the letter exists and ask if they want to receive it."



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