A man died. Because he was a donor, I am alive today. He was my lifesaver!
My liver failed due to auto-immune hepatitis and cirrhosis.
I went downhill so quickly that I was unable to get out of bed or off the toilet by myself, or do my basic care. My husband was my caregiver.
The night I received the call from my surgeon, I was alone in our hotel room. Our son and family had come to Rochester to visit for the weekend and were down swimming. We were on the 3rd floor. My surgeon, Dr. Rosen, called and said he thought he had a liver for me and to be at the hospital within 2 hours. He was flying out to be certain the liver was viable. I was so excited, but couldn’t get out of bed with my news! About that time, our son and his family quit swimming. Our daughter-in-law and grandchildren took the elevator to the 3rd floor while our son ran up the steps. When he got to the top, he had this feeling that I was going to get a liver that night. He opened the motel room door and said, “Mom, I just had this feeling that you are getting your liver tonight!” I said, “Get your Dad, the Doctor just called”. Well, they had me there within 20 minutes, however, before we left, we had a family prayer. Our son and family prayed for me and the surgeons. My husband and I prayed for my donor’s family as we knew they were hurting.
While I was in Surgical ICU, CNN was on. I watched it to see if someone famous on the East coast had died, as we had heard my liver came from the New York area. The only tragedy was there had been a big gang fight in New York City where gang members died. Since my liver came from an 82 year old, I didn’t figure he had died in a gang war!
After my discharge from the hospital, my new life began. My husband took me to the Gift of Life Transplant House, in Rochester, but before we went to the house, he drove me around the Mayo buildings. Everything was dormant when I went into the hospital, now all the tulips were blooming. Rochester had new life, as did I!
Since my transplant, we have been blessed with three new grandchildren, my high school graduating class celebrated 50 years, my husband and I recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, and this next April, we plan to have a birthday celebration for my liver, which will turn 90! I was 61 when I received my transplant. My donor was 82.
Three weeks after my transplant, we received a call that our Granddaughter, Nora, had died suddenly, 10 days short of her first birthday. At a very difficult time in our daughter and son-in-law’s life, they made the decision that Nora could be a donor, as they knew the importance of donation.
Since my transplant I have become an active volunteer with LifeSource, as I believe in paying it forward.
- I helped pass legislation in ND this year which will require all public drivers’ education instructors to include information on donation, beginning July 2014
- I speak to drivers’ ed groups, civic organizations, colleges and high school classes about donation
- I was involved with the 2013 Trails4Transplants, a fundraising and awareness opportunity that raised $40,311 for the Gift of Life Transplant house, and brought the message of donation through NW MN and central ND. I’m looking forward to participating in all the future T4Ts as well!
This is my message: Consider becoming an organ donor, discuss your decision with your family, AND please don’t decide that you are too old to be a donor, or that no one would want your organs – let the medical professionals make that determination! I am living proof that an older-than-average liver works! I am a very grateful recipient! Thank you!