Transplant gives former mayor second chance;
Akers celebrating life by giving back to community
By Brian Bearden
This story begins a few years ago …
After all the medical tests, the doctor told the former mayor of Plano that at most he would have two to three years to live.
LIFE CAN QUICKLY CHANGE
Jeran Akers owned Akers & Associates and was helping families move into homes by providing mortgages and had a long future planned with wife, Victoria, and kids.
Only problem, he had a medical condition with his lungs. In months, he would not be able to breathe.
“When someone says you are going to die, relative to a certain date, it gets your attention,” Akers said. “I had a condition. Not even a disease.”
After a biopsy of his lungs, doctors were 100 percent certain that he had few choices to live. Akers immediately ruled out a transplant because it would be too painful. Instead he went for medical trials while his doctor asked him not to rule out the transplant.
“My doctor said, ‘Listen, Akers, you need to consider a transplant. With the advances they are making, in three years they will have something even better.”
Meanwhile, Akers found himself able to breathe less and less.
“We took a tour to Santa Fe (N.M.),” Akers told the Collin County Lincoln Society. “It felt like I was suffocating like I was on the bottom of a bunch of kids in a dogpile. I went inside and went over to the fire place. I lifted a log to put in the fireplace, and I had a collapsed lung.”
Akers was treated and put on oxygen. He returned home and decided to wait for a transplant.
“It is a very much alone feeling,” Akers said. “I went through all of my stuff and put things in three different boxes for my children so they wouldn’t have to do it. As morbid as it sounds, I wrote my obituary and my memorial. As time progressed, I could do less and less.”
He sold the major assets of Akers & Associates, a manufacturer’s representative agency the Rotarian had owned since 1979.
“I even went through and cleaned the garage,” he said.
Victoria and Jeran decided to work in a trip to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
“By now I’m on oxygen, and we had a backup for the backup tank as we drove up there,” said Akers, warning that the high altitude almost did him in because of the oxygen. The elevation of the park averages 8,000 feet, ranging from 5,282 feet in the north to 11,358 feet in the east, at the summit of Eagle Peak in the Absaroka Range.
His oxygen tanks were making noise.
Despite that, Akers reached the top.
“I was sitting there breathing my oxygen, as happy as a lark,” he said. Shortly afterward, his lungs had a relapse.
At home resting, Akers received a call from the doctor saying a transplant had been found. He asked, “How fast can you get to the hospital?”
“I said 30 to 45 minutes. He said make it 30 minutes.”
At the hospital, Akers learned the donor was an older guy with tattoos and piercings. Doctors told him, “We are taking a chance in putting these lungs in your body.”
Akers went into surgery, woke up with a morphine drip and two IV lines.
“I looked down at my chest, and it looked like a redneck switchboard,” Akers said.
He said the next two or three days were the “absolute hardest days of my life” because of the pain. At one point, he said he asked “Lord, am I going to be OK?” With the morphine working on his pain, Akers said he saw four pieces of rope that spelled out “I X O U” which he accepted. Another time, Akers said he saw a small man at the bottom left of his vision. “It winked at me. Let me tell you, you have to have a belief in a supreme being – a higher power when you go through something like that. It is what pulled you through.”
Akers, the 64-year-old Alabama grad who became a captain in the Air Force, meets with the Lincoln Society once a month on the second Wednesday of each month in Allen. He was one of the 5,000 in attendance in Dallas at the Republican Party of Texas annual convention.
TODAY … GOING STRONG
Now, a couple of healthy years later, Jeran Akers is a candidate in 2012 for State Representative in House District 67.
Akers, the current CEO and President of the Celina Chamber of Commerce, has run for office before and served as mayor of Plano from 2000-2002 (after John Longstreet and before Pat Evans) and ran for the Republican nomination for Collin County Commissioner in 2006.
Akers was elected mayor on May 6, 2000, with 64.17 percent of the Plano vote. Akers also served on the Plano City Council from 1993-1999. He was Deputy Mayor Pro Tem from 1997-1998 and Mayor Pro Tem from 1998-1999.
Akers said what’s important is becoming an organ donor.
“The most valuable asset you have is your body,” Akers said. “Most organs will be buried or cremated. What a waste? You can literally save a life, save nine people and have an affect on so many lives and people by just deciding to donate your organs.
“Because of having this transplant and these new lungs, I got to see my daughter get married and see a son become an officer in the Air Force. Believe me, you will make a difference in someone’s life when you take a minute to sign up to donate.”
Akers says everyone can save a life by spending about 60 seconds to sign up today at Donate Life Texas at donatelifetexas.org.
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