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Recipient Stories

My Life Changed

Imagine going to bed feeling like you had the flu, but waking up the next morning yellow. For me this felt like a bad dream, but it was a reality. The next few weeks would change my life forever.

A visit to the doctor’s office revealed that my liver wasn’t functioning properly causing my skin to be jaundiced. They sent me home with instructions to rest while they waited on my remaining test results. When they got the results I was immediately sent to the hospital where they began doing more extensive testing. During my time at the hospital, I required multiple blood transfusions. I was so sick that I wasn’t fully able to comprehend everything happening and I was getting worse with each passing day.

My liver was completely failing causing me to slip in and out of consciousness and it even began affecting my kidneys requiring me to be placed on dialysis.

I soon slipped into a coma and my family was told that my only hope was a liver transplant. I was added to the national transplant waiting list as a Status 1 patient – the category for those most critically in need. After being on the list for 46 hours a life-saving call came that a suitable matching donor liver was available. This was a blessing especially because my family was told I only had several hours left to live.

I received my liver transplant on December 7, 1997 – a date that will always be special to me. The liver transplant was a cure for Wilson’s Disease, the rare genetic disorder that had caused my liver to fail.

It was several days later that I was told I had received a liver transplant. I was in shock! My world was temporarily turned upside down. I was 20 years old and was still too weak to walk or take care of myself because I had been so sick. I was dependent upon my family and friends for even the most basic task of tying my own shoes. It was wonderful to know that everyone was supporting me, both emotionally and physically, during my recovery. I was released from the hospital on December 27, two days before my 21st birthday.

The physical therapy I had started while in the hospital continued along with in-home nursing visits for almost four months. With each day I continued to grow stronger and I was determined to be “normal” again. To show that I was returning to good health I started a part time job just five and a half months after my transplant. It was grueling, but it felt great to show everyone that I was more than okay.

I never could have guessed the impact organ and tissue donation would have on my life. It has changed my perspective about what is really important. It has helped me to find the positive in every day and I now know that you can’t take any day for granted.

Today, I am working full time in a doctor’s office and taking pre-nursing classes part time. I am happy, healthy, and eternally grateful that my donor’s mother said yes to the “Gift of Life” and has given me a future to look forward to.

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