How a stranger’s selfless gift saved Ashlee Terwilliger’s life

POCONO RECORD | Andrew Scott

Photo: GoFundMe

There just aren’t enough thank-you cards in the world.

Ashlee Terwilliger and husband, Jim, of Smithfield Township appreciate the prayers, cards, donations and helping hands from the Monroe County community, including total strangers, as well as from family and close friends. If it wasn’t for the overwhelming support, which included a GoFundMe page, it would have been that much harder to deal with Ashlee’s cystic fibrosis.

Most importantly, in addition to thanking doctors, the Terwilligers want to thank the family of the donor of the new lungs that now make it possible for Ashlee to breathe without coughing, climb stairs, jog and romp outdoors with 3-year-old daughter Raelee. Because of a stranger’s selfless gift, Ashlee’s days of chest percussions, long hospital stays and lugging around an oxygen tank are behind her.

“We understand and respect that organ donors’ identities are kept confidential unless their families choose to come forward,” said Ashlee, sitting with her husband, Jim, at their dining room table while daughter, Raelee, played nearby. “I hope my donor’s family chooses to reach out to us so we can meet them some day.”

Along with expressing appreciation for the help in their own situation, the Terwilligers want to convey the importance of organ donation.

Jim has seen a 180-degree turn in Ashlee’s life.

“There’s no greater gift than making it possible for someone to enjoy a longer, better-quality life with the people who love them,” he said. “Before Ashlee’s lung transplant, life was doom and gloom for a long time. It wasn’t really living. Now, she has a second chance. We are just so blessed and unbelievably grateful.”

Raising awareness

Whether through social media, talking to people in person or supporting efforts such as the Gift of Life Donor Program, Ashlee does whatever she can to raise awareness about organ donation and the need for more donors. Continue reading

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