Appreciating a second chance at life

Fund raiser for liver transplant recipient will be held July 29

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Tim Damon is having an eventful summer, that has included a life-changing operation and moments of gratitude.Damon, son of Mark and Tina Damon, of Camas, received a liver transplant in June, at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital, in Portland. He has Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, a rare bile duct disease. It is not curable, but some of the symptoms are treatable.

Diagnosed with PSC six years ago, Damon underwent approximately 20 endoscopic procedures, but he was continuing to turn yellow.

“I’ve recently returned to normal skin tone, for the first time in about a year and a half,” he said.

Damon, 25, said he does not have any information about the donated liver.

He has an option to send the donor’s family a letter.

“I plan to tell them about myself,” Damon said. “They gave me a second shot at life. That’s the least I can do. That’s the most overwhelming aspect of it — that someone did die and their family made the decision [to donate organs]. I can only imagine how tough that is for families.”

Damon said he had the organ donor box checked off on his driver’s license when he was 16.

“I’m not going to need any of this when I go,” he said.

After the liver transplant, Damon was released from the hospital in five days instead of the expected two to three weeks.

“I walked as often as I could in the hospital,” he said. “I’ve been surrounded by friends and family and every doctor and nurse. It’s overwhelming the amount of love and care. That’s the factor that makes the entire process a lot easier.

“It’s easy to keep a positive attitude when you are surrounded by so much support,” Damon added. “During the surgery, my whole family camped out in the waiting room. That’s how lucky I am.”

One of his best friends, Matt St. Clair, was also in the waiting room. Damon and St. Clair are members of The Hunting Club, a band that plans to resume recording a CD later this summer.

Since the transplant, Damon’s mother has been his primary caretaker. Tina, a bus driver for the Camas School District, works with Joene Hancock.

Hancock’s daughter, Autumn Lonstad, is the owner of Autumn’s Auto Lube, in east Vancouver. Lonstad is planning a cruise-in to raise money for Damon’s medical expenses.

In April, a friend of Damon’s organized a fund raiser at a wine shop and coffee bar in the Seattle area.

“I’m a healthier person because of what those people have done,” Damon said. “It’s really humbling. It’s so important — especially in this country. There’s always going to be a shortage of organs. A lot of people die while they are on the list, because there are not enough [organs] to go around.”

He would like to see the topic of organ donation addressed in high school health classes.

“It should be a one-day crash course why it’s important,” Damon said. “I’m definitely an organ donor and fully support it. When we’re done with our bodies, we’re done with our bodies.”