Bayonne, N.J.) – It has been nearly eight years since Dan Bonner of Bayonne, N.J., received the gift of life from a stranger who had lost his own. Now he’s spending every day trying to make his life matter.
“Receiving an organ. It’s a gift bigger than me. It’s bigger than anything that anyone can do for another person; and as a recipient of a gift like that I am absolutely compelled to give back in hopes that I can one day earn that gift,” said Bonner, who has become an active volunteer and public speaker advocating organ and tissue donation. He has spoken at hospitals, churches and synagogues, and before community organizations.
He has also authored a book about his experiences. “Gifted: An Extraordinary Journey Through Illness and Liver Transplantation,” published in 2012, gives readers an inside look at the transplant process from the patient’s perspective. The book took three years to write and is filled with emotion.
Bonner’s journey began in 1997 when he developed digestive problems and was later diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. It was in 2001 when Bonner’s liver problems began and he was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). Just three short years later, in Oct. of 2004, he was told he needed to be listed for a liver transplant. He was officially listed in Jan. 2005 and was transplanted in March of the same year at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
“I remember after I got out of the hospital the first place I went was my father’s grave site,” said Bonner. “I said to him, ‘You’ve got to find my donor and shake his hand. You’ve got to thank him for me because I can’t.’”
Bonner’s book about his transplant journey has received favorable reviews from those who’ve read it in the medical community, people who have been touched by transplantation and those who just enjoy reading a good memoir.
“I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Gifted.’ It is a unique perspective, as Dan is truly in the fight of his life. Not only as a patient receiving the lifesaving gift of organ donation, but with himself. He opens up and gives us a view as a patient, and as a family member. It's a riveting story about how to be everything and everyone people expect, and still allow yourself to be cared for. It is a delicate balance that Dan walks with grace & dignity. It should be mandatory reading for all those facing illness,” said Melissa Cross of Sarasota, Fla.
“The best writers allow the reader to feel the complex emotions humans experience. You fluidly expressed how one minute you were feeling despair and the next you recognized the irony or humor of the human condition. Thanks for allowing us into your world,” said Melissa Eames from King of Prussia, Penn.
“I am the assistant nurse manager of the Neuro ICU @ HUP (the unit where immediate post-op liver patients go to). I heard you speak today- you brought tears to my eyes. YOU are the REASON we come to work each day. I came back and told the nurses about you, how well you are doing, and your gratitude. Thank you,” said Margo Wallace, the nurse manager at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
“Gifted: An Extraordinary Journey Through Illness and Liver Transplantation,” is available for purchase via BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com and the author’s website, www.dbonner.com. The book retails for $15.95.
Dan Bonner currently lives in Bayonne, N. J., with his wife, Sue. He works in the financial services industry and also does motivational speaking. Dan and Sue enjoy volunteering at various organizations, traveling and spending time at the New Jersey shore.