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National Donor Day: Steven’s Story

“I grew up in a large family of athletes. I was a collegiate level participant in Lacrosse and was actively enjoying participating in triathlons after college until my heart began to lose function,” shared Steven Bradley, who was no stranger to an active lifestyle until being diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. This life-altering disease caused Steven’s heart muscle to thicken and made it increasingly difficult for his heart to pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of his body, which limited his energy and ability for his active lifestyle, and even participation in day-to-day activities.

Steven sought multiple medical opinions throughout the United States, but was eventually informed there was nothing else that could be done short of a heart transplant. Thus began his journey of testing and analysis until he was officially placed on the national transplant waiting list for a new heart. “I went from being very active and competing to only being able to recreationally enjoy sports to not being able to run, until I couldn’t walk across the street just a little over a year ago.” On August 13th, 2021, Steven received hopeful news that would change his life in the form of a phone call from his transplant center. After four months on the waiting list, a heart came available. Steven and his wife quickly packed their bags and traveled to his transplant center, the Cleveland Clinic Florida located in Weston.

Since receiving his lifesaving heart transplant, Steven has been proactively seeking ways to promote organ donation and educate others about registering to become an organ, eye and tissue donor as both a LifeLink ORGANizer volunteer and UNOS ambassador. “I live every day in amazement at my gift at a new life,” said Steven.

When asked what National Donor Day means to him now, Steven responded by saying, “the responsibility of taking the step to be a donor was not that present in my life. Now, I realize that without that, I may not be here today. The beauty of the gift of becoming a donor, the simple idea that action may have on others is nothing less than profoundly impactful.”

Observed every year on February 14th, National Donor Day is an observance dedicated to spreading awareness and education about organ, eye and tissue donation. National Donor Day also recognizes those who have given and received the gift of life through donation and transplantation, are currently waiting for a lifesaving transplant, and those who died waiting because an organ was not donated in time.

In Florida there are more than 4,800 people currently waiting for a lifesaving transplant. One donor has the potential to save eight lives through organ donation and enhance the lives of up to 75 people through tissue donation. Anyone, regardless of their age or medical condition, can register as a donor online through the state donor registry, Donate Life Florida.