By Michael Gray, transplant recipient
In August 2016, to my utter and total surprise, my health took a serious turn for the worse. For being 71 years-old, I had always been fit, relatively healthy and in good shape.
On August 8, I began to vomit blood and had to be rushed to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. I was admitted and after a nine-day stay, doctors discovered three cancerous tumors in my liver, which was not functioning well. Out of nowhere my health was spiraling downward.
I was diagnosed with NASH – non-alcoholic sclerosis of the liver – and began chemotherapy. At the same time as chemo, I was undergoing a battery of testing to see if I would quality for the national liver transplant waiting list.
Everything was happening so fast. In January, I completed and passed all the medical examinations and was added to the transplant list. My wait began. I had no idea how long it would be, but my wife Betty, my friends and family and my faith in God carried me through.
And carry me through, He did. About a month after being added to the list I received the call! It had been a typical February day. As my wife and I were getting ready for bed, I remember thinking about where to go for our St. Valentine’s Day dinner when the phone rang. It was my transplant coordinator telling me a donor had been found! I was at the hospital and being prepped for surgery 45 minutes later. It all happened so quickly, I didn’t have time to worry, only to pray.
I received my new liver on Valentine’s Day, and awoke five days and three surgeries later with a fresh lease on life. After an additional week recovering in the hospital, I was able to go home and begin my new life. Now, at 72 years-old, my recovery process has been excellent! I still can’t exercise how I used to be able to, but I feel great! All thanks to my donor and my God.
While I don’t know anything about my donor, I have sent their family a letter through Lifeline of Ohio. I expressed my deep condolences and also thanked them for this incredible gift. I am alive today because of their loved one.
In honor of my anonymous donor, my hero, I ask you to consider becoming a registered organ, eye and tissue donor. You could save and heal so many.