At 53 years old, Donna DiCosta has a lot to be thankful for: a successful nursing career and two healthy children. But the thing she is most thankful for is having a second chance at life, thanks to the power of organ donation.
“Every day that I am alive is because my organ donor chose to give the gift of life,” DiCosta said. “What she has done for me is truly remarkable.”
At age three, DiCosta was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. She managed to live normally for most of her life, but once she had her children her lungs began to fail. She was constantly having a hard time breathing and making regular trips to the emergency room.
“I was really, really sick before my transplant,” DiCosta said. “I couldn’t walk more than four feet without getting sick and having to lie down.”
In her early 40s, Donna was placed on the waitlist for a double lung transplant. She was one of approximately 10,000 New Yorkers waiting for a lifesaving transplant in the state of New York.
“It was scary,” she said. “My kids were 10 and 13 at the time, so I had to help them understand what was going on. The call could come at any moment so we had to have several plans in place as far as who would take care of the kids when I had to go in for the transplant.”
After nine long months on the waitlist, DiCosta received a double lung transplant and a new lease on life. She celebrated the ten-year anniversary of her lifesaving transplant last month. Since the transplant, DiCosta has gotten to know the family of her donor, Mary, and has found out that they had quite a bit in common.
“We were both nurses and we had kids the same age,” DiCosta said. “She always wanted to go to Italy, so once I got better I took a trip to Italy so Mary’s lungs could breathe in the Italian air.”
Last year, Donna traveled to Spain to compete in the World Transplant Games, where she ran a 5K. This year she plans to compete in the Transplant Games of America in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“Being able to run that 5K with my new lungs was just the most incredible moment,” she said.
In her spare time, DiCosta attends community events and fairs where she educates her neighbors about organ donation.
“I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for organ donation,” she said. “One person can save up to eight lives, which is such an incredible legacy to leave. I hope everyone registers to donate so that more people like me get a second chance at life.”
To learn more about becoming an organ donor, please visit LiveOnNY.org .