Last Friday morning wasn't just any day on the slopes for David Bailey. It was the first time he'd been skiing since his liver transplant operation in November.
An avid skier for more than four decades, Bailey was eager to get back to his beloved sport, even if it was only taking slow turns on the groomers.
While getting back on the mountain certainly helped lift his spirits, Bailey has something else in mind for not only dealing with the results of his transplant but making the experience worthwhile. He wants to create a Summit County support group for pre- and post-operation organ transplants.
"My liver transplant has definitely changed the way I look at life," Bailey said. "I am so grateful for this second chance and want to give back to the community by starting this group."
Bailey, 60, has lived in Summit County for four years. He's self-employed, works from home and has his clients trained to not expect much from him on powder days. Originally from California, he spent 20 years in Spokane, Wash., raising his family and enjoying the nearby skiing opportunities. He said he greatly enjoys his life in Summit County and plans on staying for a while.
"I love Summit County," he said. "I'm staying; I'm not going anywhere."
After spending nine months on the transplant list, unable to travel outside of an easy-access radius of Denver, Bailey finally got the call. He went skiing at Keystone Nov. 16, then had his liver transplant operation two days later in Denver.
Being back on his skis has been great, but Bailey is determined to create a support group, not only for himself but for others who have had or are about to have an organ transplant.
"Pre-transplant I had questions that I didn't ask," Bailey said. "I would've liked to ask more questions prior. And afterwards I really didn't. I think to ask more questions is one of the things - to have somebody to bounce something by, somebody who's been through it before."
Bailey envisions a group in a casual, relaxed setting where people can get together and talk about anything - questions, thoughts, ideas, fears, etc. - related to their transplants. They might even plan supportive activities together, like skiing or other outings. The key would be the emotional support available.
"My goal would be to have a group that could support new people and support each other, because ... it's just like life - everybody has a good day and everybody has a not-so-good day, for whatever reason that might be," Bailey said. "I'm doing this for me but I'm also doing it for others that I think are in the same boat as I am, and then to be a support to somebody that's getting ready to go through what we've one through."
Bailey hopes that anyone interested in being a part of the support group will contact him by phone (970) 485-5884 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Although his initial idea was for the support group to involve mainly transplant patients, he said that he wanted to keep the structure loose and open, which means people who have gone or are going through other serious diseases, such as cancer, would also be welcome to join.
"I think this will be a good thing for the county," he said.