As a child, I was the kid who was always at the dentist…braces twice, a frenectomy, wisdom teeth removal, head gear, retainers, etc.; I always wanted a beautiful smile and I underwent many procedures to achieve that, thanks to my parents.
So, when I turned 18 and was a senior in High School, I was having pain and problems with a molar on the left side of my upper jaw and, again, went to the dentist to have it checked out. Low and behold, I needed a root canal. Dental procedures were nothing new to me and I underwent the root canal and thought everything was fine…until a few days later…an infection was still present in the tooth’s root and I had to undergo a second root canal…lucky me to have many extra auxiliary canals around my teeth and they are hard to reach through a regular root canal procedure. Things got better after the second attempt to fix the issue and I was able to get back to enjoying the end of my senior year…I had missed three weeks of school due to that procedure.
I left for college the day after I graduated high school and all was well for about a year and a half. That’s when things turned worse. I woke up one morning and the roof of my mouth was swollen down onto my tongue and I couldn’t breathe well…something was wrong. My dad was notified and he rushed to Indiana University from Dayton, OH in record time. I was taken to the specialist and it was determined that the tooth that I had underwent the root canal to fix had abscessed and had to be extracted. I was put under local anesthesia as my dad stood by me and held my hand. When the tooth was extracted, the infection was more widespread than anyone realized…it was in the bone and upon extraction of that tooth, the bone surrounding it shattered.
This is where my hero comes in; without the use of donor bone to fill in and repair the shattered bone in my jaw I would have had disfigurement on the right side of my face and I wouldn’t have that beautiful smile I had yearned for my whole life. I do not know who my donor was, but that person’s gift of life gave me back my smile, and that is worth everything to me. I am now the Director of Quality Systems and Safety at Life Connection of Ohio, the local organ procurement organization for the Dayton/Toledo region of Ohio and I work everyday in this industry so that I may try to give back as much as my donor has given to me and make the gift of life possible for someone else. Donate Life!