Cullum receives the gift of life

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In the normal routine of life, a year can be a short period of time. When a person is fighting health issues and waiting for a possible cure, the same 12 months can turn into what seems like an eternity. Terry Cullum and his wife, Ruth, can say the fight has been worth it since he is now recovering from a liver transplant.

Terry Cullum shows off his "papa pillow" made by his granddaughter. (phot provided)

Terry Cullum, 60, of Jonesboro, formerly of Monette, was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver a year ago in April. He was told he would have a 50/50 chance of living two years without a liver transplant. With the support of his family, friends and doctors, he has battled the disease, endured the ups and downs, and worked hard to hold on to the hope the call would come in time for him to receive a transplant.

Shortly after Cullum was diagnosed, he was denied being put on the transplant list.

The family gives thanks to a wonderful doctor at the Veteran's Hospital for his efforts in helping Cullum to become stable and placed on the transplant list.

April is Organ Donor Awareness Month and Cullum's family now realizes the importance of letting people know how their ultimate gift of being an organ donor offers hope and life.

Easter weekend 2009 will always be a time of rejoicing for Cullum and his family as the waiting came to an end and Cullum underwent surgery on Saturday, April 11, at the Methodist Hospital in Memphis.

Cullum had come close to receiving a transplant twice before. His call came at 2:30 a.m. and the family arrived hopeful this time. Cullum told his family, the third time is a charm and he proved to be right.

Ironically, Mrs. Cullum had told her daughters and family members a month ago, she was confident her husband would have his transplant on April 10. Her prediction proved to be only hours away from the time.

The Cullum family is very thankful to the Lord for the miracle of life he has received. If all goes well he will be returning to his home later this week.

Cullum is a native of Monette, the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Gail Cullum. For years he owned and operated a grocery business, Terry's Lucky Foods, in Monette. He worked as a manager for WalMart for 18 years. Mr. and Mrs. Cullum now own and operate Superior Senior Care where they see to the needs of senior citizens.

They are the parents of two daughters, Melanie Sparkman of Jonesboro and Jenny Salyers of Houston, Texas, and two sons, Bradley and Daniel, both of Jonesboro. They have four grandchildren.

Mrs. Cullum has kept family and friends updated on their journey through a website, It has also been a good way for them to get encouraging comments from their family and friends.

Mr. Cullum is looking forward to being home and the family is planning a community fish fry in Monette this fall to celebrate life with their friends and family.

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  • Terry Cullum was very lucky to get a Liver transplant. Over half of the 100,000 Americans on the national waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

    There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

    Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't prepared to share the gift of life should go to the back of the transplant waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

    Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 12,000 members, including 61 members in Arkansas.

    Please contact me - Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers - if your readers would like to learn more about our innovative approach to increasing the number of organ donors. I can arrange interviews with some of our local members if you're interested. My email address is My phone number is 615-351-8622.

    -- Posted by LIFESHARERS on Thu, Apr 23, 2009, at 10:49 AM
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