I was born on January 29, 1992 with a birth defect called gastroschisis, which meant that my intestines extended outside my body through a small hole in my abdominal wall. I received a liver, small and large bowel transplant in December of 1992, just before my first birthday. Though I was transplanted in Pennsylvania, I have been cared for by the brilliant team at Boston Children’s Hospital ever since.
When I was first recovering in Pennsylvania, my parents were told that I would never be able to swim in the ocean because I would have to have a central line in for the rest of my life. Well, to that person I would like to say:
I have swam in two oceans.
I have traveled across the country twice — hiking and backpacking in the Rocky Mountains.
I attended an agricultural high school where I worked with livestock, rode horses and climbed trees.
I rode a camel in Morocco.
I studied abroad in the remote Italian Alps.
I played quidditch as a college sport.
I rode horseback over the tundra in Alaska, went to Oktoberfest in Germany, snorkeled in Hawaii, studied in Ireland and more.
I have been able to enjoy these amazing experiences thanks to the incredible team of surgeons, doctors and nurses at Boston Children’s, as well as the support of my family and friends.
The lives of organ recipients and their loved ones are not always easy. There are scary times; there are times of unease and discomfort. But if I have learned anything through my years at Boston Children’s, it is that even during these difficulties, I will always have the love of my family and friends and the support of a community of the most brilliant doctors, nurses and hospital workers one could hope for.
About the blogger: Lauren Ainsworth is a 25-year-old multivisceral transplant recipient. After graduating from college, Lauren pursued a Masters in Anthropology at American University. She recently began a residential program in conservation, natural resource management and environmental education.
This post is an excerpt from a talk Lauren gave at the Pediatric Transplant Center’s 11th Annual Family Celebration Day.