Ron Walsh of Middletown truly lives each day to its fullest.
The former Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps and retired executive from PSE&G has a resilient spirit that has helped him overcome many critical health issues over the years to now enjoy all that life has to offer.
"I get up every morning feeling strong, thanking God for yet another day to enjoy my family and friends," said Walsh.
"Each day is a blessing and a new chance to enjoy life thanks to my organ donor hero and the miracle of a liver transplant. I owe my donor and my family so much. I don't want to let any of them down."
Walsh's journey to his recent transplant began 25 years ago when he was first diagnosed with diabetes.
Despite advanced treatments, Walsh's health condition worsened over the years until a biopsy revealed that he had developed cirrhosis of the liver. "At the time, I was devastated," said Walsh.
Walsh received more bad news in 2019 when a cancerous tumor was discovered on his liver.
He credits the work of surgeons and doctors for successful procedures that helped to temporarily remove cancer concerns. However, his health continued to worsen.
"In 2020, I began to get confused, I had slurred speech, and I was basically unable to function. My liver was failing," said Walsh.
Doctors recommended that Walsh be placed on the list for a liver transplant, but he was hesitant.
"I remember that I initially went ballistic," said Walsh. "I never had major surgery in my life, and I was downright scared. I am glad that I ultimately followed their advice."
Walsh was contacted six times during the summer months of 2021 to prepare for possible liver transplants.
"Unfortunately, they were false alarms," said Walsh. "I was devastated, and I started to lose hope. If not for the never-ending support of my wife Jean, I might have thrown in the towel."
On August 23, 2021, the seventh phone call turned out to be Walsh's lucky number and he felt blessed that his transplant surgery was officially "a go."
"Right before surgery, I remember whispering to the doctor, 'please reach down and do your very best - my wife and I have planned for a long life together,'" said Walsh.
Walsh's liver transplant was a complete success. Just six days later, Walsh was able to leave the hospital and was well on his road to recovery – completely cancer-free.
Now five months post-transplant, Walsh is filled with energy and spends as much time as possible with Jean, their three sons and their six grandchildren.
He is also forever mindful of his organ donor who gave him the gift of life.
"My donor lives on in me. I honor her memory every day by finding ways to help others," said Walsh.
Walsh, who has volunteered for many years working with veterans to educate them on health issues, has found another way to give back by supporting NJ Sharing Network's life-saving mission.
He enjoys sharing his personal story to help raise awareness about the power of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
"I tell everyone that the easiest way to become a superhero is with the click of a mouse by registering as an organ and tissue donor," said Walsh. "You can save a mom, dad, brother, sister, cousin, grandparent - anyone."
According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents are waiting for a life-saving transplant.
Just one organ and tissue donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of over 75 people.
According to NJ Sharing Network, last year, 233 generous individuals in New Jersey gave the gift of life, an all-time high for a single year.
In addition, 42,112 eye and tissue donations healed and enhanced the quality of life for those in need.
To learn more, get involved and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NJ SHARING NETWORK