David Manuel was awarded the 2013 Non-Profit Executive of the Year award, but in late 2014 his world was forever changed. During routine tests for his annual physical, doctors noticed some alarming test results and rushed David to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Piedmont Hospital. David walked into ICU, but after two days he couldn’t get out of bed. After numerous tests and 40 days in the ICU, doctors determined that his liver was failing, and his kidneys were damaged but they didn’t know why. It was clear that he needed a liver transplant right away and David was placed on the waiting list. Surprisingly, just 36 hours later, David received his gift of life. During the worst of his illness, the origins of which were never determined, and even now, with the knowledge he may eventually need a kidney transplant as well, David adopted the motto “Stop thinking ‘Why Me?’ and start thinking ‘Why Not Me?’
David is currently the interim Deputy Director of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Affairs and manages the Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center. He is preparing for the 3rd Annual I am A Father 5K to be held in Atlanta, Georgia this summer as well as expanding his outreach to include a 5K in Birmingham, Alabama.
He continues to share his transplant journey to encourage others. “Because someone gave me the gift of life, I was able to see my son graduate high school, and I was able to get married,” says David, “I’m now able to watch my three children excel in college.”