Charles "Ted" Edward Lawson, heart recipient, New York, NY.
"Mr. Lawson, you have end-stage cardiomyopathy and have about 6 to 12 months left to live." This is what 62 year old Ted Lawson was told by his cardiologist in 2003 and that there were no other medications available that could help him. His only option was to be placed on the national wait list for a heart. With this devastating news, Lawson went to Columbia University Medical Center to begin the battery of tests in order to be placed on the wait list. After all the tests were completed, he was told that he was too healthy and didn't meet the criteria to be placed on the wait list. Eleven months later...he was told he was too sick.
Lawson had a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) or a heart pump placed and left the hospital a few months later. He began rehabilitation and in the following 14 months worked out and was able to regain some quality of life. While Lawson was waiting for "the call", he was educating himself on heart transplants. It was suggested that he volunteer at the New York Organ Donor Network. He also went back to school at New York University and received a certificate in Foundation Management. Four months later, he was called to the hospital as a back-up heart recipient, but was sent home. It was not until June 23, 2005 did he receive the call that there was a heart available.
Five and a half hours later Lawson had a new heart and was up walking the next day. It was the first time since he could remember that he was able to walk 100 yards without having to stop to catch his breath. He was in the hospital for 12 days and attributes his short hospital stay to maintaining good physical health.
After Lawson recovered from surgery, he continued volunteering at the New York Organ Donor Network and started organizing their volunteer database. Soon he was training new volunteers at New York Organ Donor Network and speaking to various groups on organ donation and transplantation.
Lawson attends meetings on organ donation and transplantation to satisfy his continuing thirst for knowledge. He is a member of several committees to include the OPTN/UNOS Patient Affairs Committee, the OPTN/UNOS Kidney Paired Donation Education subcommittee, and joined the Donor Family Memorial Committee at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
He is currently working six days a week at the New York Organ Donor Network. He is a member on a committee that is looking into a fund raising project to celebrate New York Organ Donor Network's 30th anniversary, teaching a health class for high school students on organ donation and transplantation, and loves the challenges associated with his work. Prior to being placed on the wait list, he was an institutional bond salesman for 39 years on Wallstreet. Lawson said, "Working on Wallstreet was fun, but I was getting tired and I really took things for granted. Now I am very thankful and grateful for all things in life, for what I have and what I can do."
Lawson feels that it is very important that hospital staff, mainly doctors and nurses, are educated about organ donation and transplantation. Lawson stated, "There needs to be a donor counsel in place with a dedicated educator for doctors, nurses, dieticians and other hospital staff to teach them the basics of organ donation and transplantation and provide them with resources they can pass on to patients and families." He also stated that, "New York has such challenges with its diverse population that more time and money needs to be spent educating the public about organ donation and transplantation."