Anaheim Hills couple celebrates new lease on life
BY SHARON HLAPCICH | OC Register
Dennis and Judi Sepulveda have more than just similar interests in common — both also received an organ transplant exactly 13 years apart.
He received a liver transplant on Dec. 12, 1996 as a result of Hepatitis C encountered while serving in Vietnam. She had a double lung transplant on Dec. 12, 2009 from blood clots in her lungs that caused Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.
Together with their kids, they will celebrate this milestone and the gift of life during two events this weekend.
On Saturday, they will help decorate a flora graph of organ donors for the Donate Life Rose Parade float in Pasadena.
And on Sunday, they will all participate in the L.A. County Holiday Half Marathon at the Pomona Fairplex on behalf of the Donate Life organization, in honor of their organ donors.
(Judi set the goal following her transplant and has been training for the marathon over the last few months.)
The transplant process is extensive, including a personal interview and examination of both physical health and mental strength. Once on the transplant list, life revolves around waiting for the phone call that a match is available — something that might occur within a matter of days or years.
The critical nature requires transplant candidates to remain within close proximity to their hospital at all times and be ready to go to the hospital on a moment's notice for further medical evaluation in preparation for a transplant that same day.
For the transplant recipient, it takes perseverance, patience and a solid support system to help them through the long recovery process.
For Judi, this included the arduous task of learning to breathe without the help of a ventilator during her three-month hospitalization.
Going through the anticipation, stress, and anxiety connected with an organ transplant, the Sepulvedas are thankful for their friends and family, whose daily support contributed to their recovery.
They have gained a new appreciation for the smallest of things – like bending down to tie a shoe, or walking from one room to another without losing their breath. They have learned not to take anything in life for granted, and to live every day to the fullest.
"Dennis and I are so grateful to our organ donors who have given us a second chance for a new life that has enabled us to experience the birth of our first grandchild this year, and to take an active part in planning our daughter's upcoming wedding," said Judi.
To read more about the Sepulvedas or to contribute to their Donate Life Second Chances Team, visitwww.active.com/donate/DonateLife2011/RunfortheSepulvedas.