General surgeon Jondavid Jabush, MD, has supported organ and tissue donation throughout his career. But he never expected to need a donor gift himself.
“I was lifting weights when I tore my rotator cuff,” Dr. Jabush said. “I felt I could heal it with physical therapy. Then I tried throwing my kids in the pool and knew that it hadn’t healed.”
Things went from bad to worse. Dr. Jabush, who describes himself as a father first, missed out on being able to do things with his three children, ages 7-10. His injury was also affecting his work and his sleep. He couldn’t get comfortable, and the pain was becoming unbearable.
“I couldn’t lift my left arm over my head,” said Dr. Jabush. “I remember trying to move my kid’s bike and had the worst pain in my gut.”
It turned out there was only one option. The surgeon needed surgery. His orthopedist told him that because the tendon had retracted so far, donor graft tissue was the only solution to do the repair.
After the surgery, the pain was gone. Dr. Jabush says he felt fantastic. He could wash his hair, put away groceries and lift his left arm over his shoulder. He knows it is all thanks to his donor and their family.
“That’s why I wanted to write a letter to the family thanking them,” he said. His message to his donor’s family: “You’ve given me the quality of my life back, and I’m able to enjoy things with my kids again. There are no words to say but thanks.”
But it doesn’t end with his gratitude. Dr. Jabush is more committed than ever to encouraging people to support organ and tissue donation. “I’ve always been an advocate,” he said. “But now it’s personal. I feel strongly about it. When you go there is no need to take it all with you. Even if you are donating for research. Your body can’t do anything for you after you die, so leave it here.”
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