"I'm thankful for every day," says Michael Jessup Jr.
Two days before Thanksgiving last year, Jessup, 34, a fund-raiser at Salisbury State University, received a kidney transplant from his brother, Mark.
"So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for being able to enjoy life with my wife, daughter, family and friends," he says. "You never know when life might end."
That daughter, Emily, was born just two months before his transplant operation last year. Two weeks ago, his brother Mark's daughter, Alex Marie, was born. The uncles are also godfathers to their nieces.
And everybody's healthy, though Mike is now awaiting a pancreas transplant. "Compared to what I was last year," he says, "I look like a different person. I haven't been this healthy for a long time."
Mike and Mark, 31, both grew up in Baltimore, both went to Loyola High and both studied business administration at Towson University, where their father, Dr. Michael Jessup Sr. is professor of secondary education.
Mike has worked in the private sector supervising corporate investment accounts. He finds overseeing the annual giving fund at Salisbury State much more satisfying.
"When I see the money raised go to build a computer center or a research building or help finance students, it's a gratifying experience," he says.
Mike and his wife, Kim, plan to establish a fund at the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Transplant Center honoring Mark, Dr. Lloyd Ratner, the surgeon who did the transplant, and the staff of the center. They hope to benefit juvenile diabetes patients.
Today, Mike says he'll give special thanks "for having a brother who is my best friend and hero."
"There is nothing more special," Mike says, "than having someone give you the opportunity to live."
Pub Date: 11/26/98