Living for my mom’s liver and for you
ABOVE: Kym (pictured left behind stroller) dashed for donation just two months after undergoing surgery.
I never thought I’d be one of the thousands of individuals forming the sea of green at the Dash for Donation just two months after donating a lobe of my liver to save my mom’s life.
But on July 13, I found myself doing that, and by sharing our story, I hope people understand the power saying a simple “yes” to donation holds for the more than 119,000 people waiting for a transplant.
My mom, Kathy Miller, was diagnosed with NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), a serious liver disease that caused her liver to fail, and fail fast. On Thanksgiving 2011, mom hosted a gathering at her house, and by that same Christmas, she wasn’t well enough to join us for our holiday meal. She was listed at the Cleveland Clinic for a life-saving organ transplant in December 2011 and worked to find the right symptom regulation and treatment to keep her alive. She lost significant weight and muscle mass and had the fluid drained out of her abdomen several times. My two brothers and I waited with her to get “the call;” the call that a registered donor made the heroic choice to give the gift of life at the time of their death and provide my mom with the second chance she desperately needed, but as the months passed, our hope dwindled.In August 2012, I learned that living liver donation was an option and contacted the Cleveland Clinic to start the evaluation process. During my tests, clinical staff stressed that my smoking habit and high BMI made me a risk for surgery so I immediately stopped smoking and began a diet/exercise program. I knew by donating my liver to my mom, not only would her life be saved, but the liver my mom would have received from a deceased donor would be available to save the life of another.
I was cleared for surgery in May 2013. On May 14, we both underwent successful surgeries. My mother’s transplant brought her spunk back and she’s now celebrating her new life by taking last-minute trips to the east coast. As an added bonus, my life is enhanced: I’m a fit, non-smoker with a healthy mom.
This year’s Dash for Donation brought the term “sea of green” full circle. I dashed in 2012 to honor my friend Sarah Black’s heroic decision to donate her infant’s organs after her child’s life was tragically cut short. This year, I dashed with her again, but also to support another friend who waits for a life-saving kidney transplant, and to celebrate my mom’s new life.
I hope those who hear our story understand that the need for donation and transplantation affects not just those waiting, but families, friends and entire communities. My mom and I hope that by sharing our story, we can let people know there are options for liver patients. But for those waiting for transplants where living donation isn’t a possibility, the only hope of survival is you. Only your decision to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor can save their lives.Say yes today and give hope to people, families and communities like mine. Register as donor by saying “yes” at the BMV or clicking here to register online.