Jimmie’s Story:

I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic lung disease.  At the time I was diagnosed, children with CF didn’t live to be teenagers. I never smoked or did drugs to cause any damage. Just genetics. My sister is completely healthy and athletic as well. Life before the transplant was just down to existing. Even on oxygen I couldn’t do anything without being exhausted. Coughing constantly. Medications just to survive, not to LIVE.

My sickest day was when I walked from my office door to my truck – about 10 to 15 steps. I was on full oxygen. By the time I got in my truck, I was breathing so badly I wouldn’t start my truck because I was afraid I would pass out and back into somebody. That’s when I realized what a pitiful existence I was leading. No enjoyment, no contribution, no meaning.

Then the day came when I was paged. I was absolutely exhilarated!  I couldn’t wait to tell my wife who was in the bathtub at the time. All she could say was, “You’re kidding!!!”

After my transplant, statistically my FEV (lung function) went from 19% to 104%. Mentally, all things became possible. It has been 22 years since I had my transplants so there are way too many moments and memories to list.  Some things I never, ever, considered possible.  Seeing my daughter graduate from high school then college, seeing her get married, becoming a grandfather, times with family and friends. Sad times as well, like losing my mom. However, I’ve been able to achieve some dreams as well.

On May 11, 1997 – Mother’s Day – I received a double bi-lateral lung transplant and on June 12, 2007 I received a live donor kidney transplant. Both surgeries were done at Baylor University Medical Center.

I owe everything to STA. They are so important. I thank God for STA and the staff. Deciding to become a donor means that person and family is willing to share life itself with someone else. The funny thing is, I hadn’t signed my license to donate because of my CF.  Upon evaluation, I asked my doctor and he said I could donate a lot of other things. I immediately registered. I would advise everyone to sign because like the transplant quote, “Don’t take your organs to heaven, heaven knows we need them here.”  It’s so true!!!!!

Connie’s Story:
When Jimmie and I became engaged my mom asked me one question: Would I be able to accept it if Jimmie and I had one day, one week, one month, one year?

Jimmie was born with cystic fibrosis and should not have seen adulthood. To get married? His family never considered it. I was very young and I’m not sure I could conceive the gravity of that question when my Mom asked me. Now, I’ve had almost 45 years to mull it over, and it certainly has been in my head often over the years.

I remember thinking, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could possibly have 10 years? A miracle to celebrate a silver anniversary? A family? When we got married, we fully believed we would not have a family. But, his health continued as did research. When he started having to be in the hospital periodically, we had to learn to live with uncertainty. Each illness brings the unknown. Ultimately, the thing I’ve learned is to be grateful each and every day. I guess that is what my mom was trying to get me to wrap my head around. Seventeen-year-olds aren’t always the wisest.

Jimmie’s transplant was a rebirth, a renewal, another chance. A GIFT. God has been good to us. Jimmie’s transplant has been life for him, for he and I, for our little family, his family, our extended families….. it goes on and on. He has been an inspiration for us all. And for other CF and transplant patients as well.

Poem for Jimmie:
“Baby boy born with a joyful heart,
Parents delight, he’s just so smart.
Growing strong was what he would do-
Didn’t know he wasn’t expected to.

Little brother tortures, teases and aggravates, But their lifetime bond is something to celebrate.
And then he becomes an uncle of two-
Didn’t know he wasn’t expected to.

Young man asks and she says yes,
Adventure is started, so truly blessed.
Their love continued, it even grew-
Didn’t know he wasn’t expected to.

A beautiful princess, a gift from heaven, A wondrous joy they had been given.
Captivated by grandchildren that make their debut- Didn’t know he wasn’t expected to.

A simple man with amazing capacity,
Seems he might be the glue for a family.
And also, I think, the heart of them too- Didn’t know he wasn’t expected to.

God up above had a design,
His expectations had come to define
A life to inspire and encourage those he knew- Didn’t know he wasn’t expected to.

We celebrate these milestones for Jimmie D Woolsey, Jr May 16, 66 years old May 11, 22 years lung transplant June 11, 12 years kidney transplant

 

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Christy Esper says:

    Love this!!! Glad you are my Uncle!! Love you!

  • Donna Bolin White says:

    Congratulations to Jimmy and Connie and all the family. God has really blessed you. What an amazing life and I God will bless you with many more. That beautiful poem said it all. Prayers for you and your family.

  • John Burris III says:

    God Bless you and yours ! Continued prayers !

  • Janice Gauntt says:

    Fabulous! An inspiration . He’s wonderful and so is the family!!
    A privilege to know.

  • Dan says:

    Praise God for you Jimmy!

  • Gary says:

    Wow! Jimmie and Connie are most certainly inspirational to this side of her family. Jimmie is one of the toughest men I have ever met.
    We have had some great times together, 4-wheelers in the mud, go carts in the rain and many hours on dirt bikes together. He has one of the greatest senses of humor and not only am I proud of him as part of the family I’m elated to be able to call him a “friend “.

    Jimmie know Truly in your heart there are none in this branch that don’t consider you heroic.

    Connie knows how I feel about her.
    LOVE you sis.

  • M. Delane Shirley says:

    I love and miss you guys so very much!!!!!!

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