“The simple act of caring is heroic.” ~ Edward Albert
In honor of caregivers everywhere, LifeLink Legacy Fund® is pleased to highlight three individuals – Lin Weber, Martha Minahan and Larry Jones who have been caregivers to spouses who received lifesaving organ transplants. All three also serve on the LifeLink Legacy Fund Board of Directors.
Lin Weber’s husband, Win, starting having health issues in 2002. What originally looked like the flu turned out to be two “silent” heart attacks, which left behind significant damage requiring Win to be considered for a heart transplant as the only option for survival. He was soon placed on the national organ transplant waiting list and approximately three and a half years later, on April 20, 2005, he received the gift of life – all thanks to an organ donor. Today, after more than 12 years with his new heart, Win is living an active life and has returned to work at his private consulting firm. As a means of giving back for the precious gift of life that was given to her husband, Lin Weber joined the LifeLink Legacy Fund Board of Directors where she has been active for several years in aiding the effort to provide financial assistance to pre- and post- organ transplant patients in need. When asked how she’d summarize her caregiver journey, Lin says, “It’s been an incredible experience. It’s been 99% positive, is the way I look at it.”
Martha Minahan’s husband, Bill, was diagnosed with kidney failure in 1983. Shortly after diagnosis, Bill began twice-a-week dialysis treatments, while juggling life as a local high school Athletic Director and football coach… and all that entails. A year later, Bill finally decided it was time to take steps to be placed on the national organ transplant waiting list for a new kidney. On March 24, 1986, Bill received the Gift of Life in the form of a kidney transplant. Thanks to the generosity of an organ donor, Bill’s transplant gave him more than 27 years and allowed him to see his grandchildren born, travel abroad hand-in-hand with Martha and his biggest highlight – visit every major league baseball stadium in the United States and Canada. Bill also joined the LifeLink Legacy Fund Board of Directors, as a way of showing his thanks for the precious second chance at life he was given. Bill served for several years and was involved with the establishment of an annual luncheon fundraiser to benefit LifeLink Legacy Fund. Sadly, Bill passed away in December 2013. However, his signature luncheon event – now named the “Wild Bill Memorial Luncheon” in his honor – continued on until 2017. Additionally, after his passing, the LifeLink Legacy Fund invited Martha to join the board in Bill’s place and she has served ever since. When thinking back on her caregiver journey with Bill, Martha reflects, “It was hard work but I’d do it all over again, if I had the chance.”
In the late 90’s Pam Jones started noticing her health was waning as she became more frequently fatigued and felt sick. After a year spent visiting multiple doctors and specialists, she was given the unfortunate news that she had liver disease and a liver transplant was her only means for survival. Both Pam and her husband, Larry, were left in a complete state of shock after hearing the news. She was referred to Tampa General Hospital to begin evaluation for transplantation. After multiple medical tests and assessments Pam was finally placed on the transplant waiting list – where today there are more than 118,000 patients waiting nationally. Thankfully, on July 28, 1999, Pam received the gift of life. Thanks to an organ donor, her new liver started working shortly after the transplant was complete and continues to function well, more than 17 years later. Pam’s husband, Larry, was so touched by the entire transplant experience and grateful to Pam’s organ donor that he joined the LifeLink Legacy Fund Board of Directors, and currently serves as Chairman. When asked what advice he’d give to other caregivers, Larry says, “You have to take some of the emotion out of it and look at it like a job.” He also encourages caregivers to ask for help when needed because, he imparts, “you’re only human and you need a break at times too.”
To learn more about Lin, Martha and Larry’s stories, check out this video highlight from National Family Caregivers Month this past November.
Fore more information on LifeLink Legacy Fund, click here.