Jane Tecce has the unique perspective of having experienced both sides of being an organ donor. Years ago after her son's death at the age of 24, his organs were donated so that others could have a new chance at life. Now, Tecce herself is still recovering from a heart transplant that she received some 16 months ago. She also received a kidney transplant at that time.
"My kids are starting to have kids now. I'm being a grammy. I can't imagine not being here," she said in a recent conversation with Patch.com. Tecce said that she was first diagnosed with heart disease about 12 years ago.
Tecce moved to Lynnfield two years ago and grew up in Wakefield, graduating from Wakefield Memorial High School. Her family owns Santoro's in Peabody, she reported.
Her motivation to help spread the word about becoming an organ donor is not limited to just her own experiences. Tecce lost one brother, David, to heart disease when he was 51 and waiting for a heart transplant. A younger brother Jimmy, reportedly had a heart transplant in 2000 at Tufts and lived for eight years after that.
"I've been on both ends of it. That's what I feel is important," she said.
According to Tecce, organ donors and recipients actually interact somewhat routinely through email and letters if they wish to do so - although this typically won't happen until a year or so after a transplant. In her own case, she met her donor's family, who were from Rhode Island, on the one-year anniversary of the transplant, something she described as "very emotional."
Those who receive an organ transplant will face an elevated risk of infection in the months after the procedure, and Tecce recalled having some setbacks in the early going. "In the last six months, I've done really, really well," she said, adding that she also hopes to return to work while also potentially doing some speaking and information tables for the New England Organ Bank.
"I want to remember the people that gave me this chance," said Tecce.
To learn more about becoming an organ donor, visit the New England Organ Bank's DonateLifeNewEngland.org website here.