Forrest General Nurse Knows Importance of Organ Donation
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – (April 14, 2020) For Brooke Miley Lillie, National Donate Life Month, which is celebrated in April, is more than just another month to promote a healthcare cause such as organ donation. It’s literally become a way of life for her.
At just 13 months old, Lillie, who suffered from restrictive cardiomyopathy, a heart condition, was in need of a new heart. A very rare condition, a transplant was her only answer. She was placed on the national transplant waiting list and received a heart just five short weeks later. Her new heart was a donation from a family in Tennessee who lost their infant son in an automobile accident.
Today, Lillie is 24 years old, a registered nurse at Forrest General Hospital, and a newlywed. She’s also a recent organ transplant recipient and received a kidney, thanks to her new husband, Adam.
Lillie grew up in Sumrall as a normal child who was involved in school life as a cheerleader, show choir participant and tennis player. During her high school years, she also competed in the Transplant Olympics - anOlympic-style event held specifically for organ recipients and donors/donor families. Lillie traveled all around the United States and even to Sweden for the U.S. and World Transplant Olympics, where she competed in swimming, tennis, and track and field.
She continued her education at Jones County Junior College, where she chose a career path as a nurse, having grown-up in and out of the hospital. She was even recognized as Student Nurse of the Year. She was healthy and happy and enjoying life as a college student.
Lillie had been warned that the anti-rejection medication she had been taking since her heart transplant could cause problems down the road, and in 2017 it was decided she needed a kidney transplant.
“It was something we always expected,” Lillie said.
And testing began; four at a time was all that was allowed. The first go-round included her brother, and his wife; her best friend, and Adam, who at the time was just her boyfriend.
Complications prevented her brother from donating his kidney, but her sister-in-law moved forward with Lillie. At Lillie’s pre-op appointment, doctors decided her kidney function was maintaining, and it was best to hold off on surgery at that time.
In November 2018, Lillie married “the love of her life” in a joyous celebration surrounded by family and friends. And, life was wonderful. She and Adam set up house in Bay Springs, MS.
In August 2019, a regular checkup with her nephrologist revealed Lillie couldn’t wait any longer on a kidney transplant. Five days later she started dialysis.
With Adam by her side, the couple decided to move forward with the transplant. In the meantime, her new husband had to be retested to make sure everything still looked good. In the end, he ended up being the perfect match, but Lillie already knew that.
Fast forward to today, six months after a successful surgery and in the midst of a pandemic, the couple is doing great. Lillie is a Registered Nurse at Forrest General, but is currently not working.
“I had returned to work in January, but unfortunately with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s unsafe for me to work with my compromised immune system,” Lillie said.
Lillie can say without any hesitation that her medical journey played a major role in her becoming a nurse.
“Growing up I never really wanted to be anything else,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse; and, now, because of an organ donation saving my life, I’m getting to live out my dream. I hope my story can show others how important organ donation is. Too many people are not educated on the facts and myths of organ donation.”
Lillie knows it’s possible to live a normal, healthy life after a transplant. She’s doing it with great success. She said it brings her so much joy to be able to give back to her community and to be able to help others as a nurse.
“I can only hope that my story can bring hope and inspiration to others, including my patients,” she said.
To learn more about organ donation or how to become a donor, visit www.donatelifems.org.
The Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency (MORA) is teaming up with Forrest General and other hospital partners across the state to promote National Donate Life Month during April. Throughout the month, they will place emphasis on the need for individuals of legal age to indicate their desire to donate by signing up on the Mississippi Donor Registry at www.donatelifems.org.
Forrest General is encouraging the public to help them Celebrate National Donate Life Blue & Green Day on Friday, April 17. On this day, the public is asked to wear blue and green and to engage in sharing the Donate Life message and promoting the importance of registering as an organ, eye and tissue donor.
Currently, there are more than 112,000 men, women and children on the national transplant waiting list. Twenty people die each day waiting for an organ transplant. One person can donate up to 8 lifesaving organs – heart, 2 lungs, liver, pancreas, 2 kidneys and intestines.
For more information about organ donation, visit www.donatelifems.org and to learn more about Forrest General, visit forrestgeneral.com.