KUNA -- April is National Donate Life Month. KTVB is partnering with "Yes Idaho" to raise awareness about organ, eye, and tissue donation. Throughout the month, we're telling stories about people affected by organ donation.
Thirty-four-year-old Jon Lang of Kuna says he didn't drink, smoke or do drugs, but for some reason his liver failed. Doctors still don't know why. He says he went downhill fast. Fortunately for him, a donor was found quickly, too.
Lang is now back at work as a utility company dispatcher in Meridian handling emergency calls from customers. It's kind of amazing considering he had the liver transplant just 10 months ago.
"I feel good. There's days that I don't. I just feel ok because everything's still healing," said Lang.
Lang says he'd been feeling tired and ill for months, but it was at work that the seriousness of his sickness started to sink in. "I had a co-worker say that I was turning yellow."
Within days he was in a Salt Lake City hospital waiting for a liver transplant.
"I remember crying when I got the news that I was being life-flighted from Boise to Salt Lake," said Lang.
He had to leave right away without his wife Emi and young daughters Tegan and Addison.
"Knowing that something major was going wrong and not knowing what was happening, it was hard sitting there in the room and saying goodbye to them as I was whisked off on an airplane," said Lang.
His family, including his dad, Jeff, got there as quickly as possible and talked to the doctors.
"They told us that he had ten days to two weeks to live," said Jeff Lang.
"It was quick. It was very downhill very fast," said Jon.
"I was having to come back to work because I had run out of vacation time, and I wasn't sure I was ever going to see my son alive again," said Jeff Lang.
But Jeff never got the chance to leave. A match was found within a couple days and Jon had his liver transplant surgery. The difference was noticeable right away.
"I remember feeling a little bit better, but for her, she says it was night and day," said Jon Lang referring to his wife, Emi.
"The doctor came and said he didn't get a good liver, he got a great liver," said Jeff Lang.
Jon and Emi and the girls haven't met the donor's family, but they did send them a letter thanking them for their gift of life.
"For us it was the hardest letter we've ever written because it's hard to describe their loss and then my gain," said Jon Lang.
"Without that my son wouldn't be here today," said Jeff.
Wouldn't be here to be a daddy to his little daughters and a husband to his wife.
"My dad has watched his girls grow up, and I might not have had that opportunity," said Jon. "So it was that selfless act that's given me a second chance."
A second chance, just in time, that has given him more time with those he loves.
The Lang family knows all too well about the need for organ donors. Coincidentally, Jon's sister is now waiting for a liver transplant.
You can register as a donor when you renew your drivers license or right now online. If you would like more information on organ, eye and tissue donation and how to register as a donor, go to "Yes Idaho".
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