Happy second birthday, Julie Lyons

Julie Lyons of Halifax marked the first anniversary of her life-saving heart transplant this week, just in time for Monday’s kickoff of National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week.

Two years ago, Julie’s congenital heart disease grew so severe she needed a Left Ventricular Assist Device, a mechanical pump implanted in her heart, and powered by a 10-pound pack of batteries that had to be changed every four hours.

Last April, the pump became infected. Overnight, Julie shot to the top of the national heart transplant list. She had only days to live.

Today, Julie has resumed her passion for gardening, she skated at the Oval this winter, and each week she voices her thanks to the anonymous donor who gave her a second chance at life by staffing a table at the Halifax Seaport Market, where she encourages market goers to sign their donor cards.

Everyone knows they should sign their donor card, but did you know it’s no longer on your driver’s license? It’s on your health card. If the word “donor” doesn’t appear to the right of your birthday on your health card, download this form, fill it out, sign it, and mail or fax it to MSI.

Don’t forget to tell your family what you’ve done. No matter how many cards you sign, no one will receive your organs or tissue over the objection of family members, so make your family knows your wishes. In fact, doing this is even more important than signing your card.

Finally, don’t assume you are too old to be a donor, or that some medical condition makes you ineligible to donate. Let the experts make that call, based on the latest medical practice in this constantly advancing field.

Just think if you could give someone the gift of life that anonymous donor gave Julie.

Julie and her friends will celebrate her second “birthday” at the Market Sunday. She invites everyone to stop by between 8:30 and 4, say hello, get some treats, and learn a little more about the amazing advances in organ and tissue transplantation.