/West Virginia

Donna-Liver Recipient

Donna J. Bias Liver Recipient – 09/11/1994 My transplant story began when I had severe itching all over my body. I had spent hundreds of dollars on creams, gels and Benadryl but nothing helped. One weekend the itching was so bad that I decided to go to a walk-in clinic. They didn't have a diagnosis and told me to see a dermatologist. Instead, I went to see my regular medical doctor. I explained my problem, and he took one look at me, and said you are going to the hospital. At the exam, he noticed my eyes were yellow and suggested a gallbladder problem or a blocked bile duct. Right away, lab results showed elevated liver numbers. That same week, a liver biopsy confirmed Primary Biliary Cirrhosis. There is no known cause or cure for this disease except for a transplant. I had never heard of a liver transplant and knew very little about organ donation. A specialist was called in, and on my 25th wedding anniversary in 1991, he told me I had approximately two years to live. What a shock since I didn't even know I was sick and never drank alcohol or used non-prescription drugs. During the three years I waited for a liver transplant, I had bloodwork every week and transfusions due to the platelets being eaten up in the spleen. My spleen became the size of a football. The severe itching continued due to the liver being unable to filter out the bile. Just wearing clothes made the itching unbearable. There was fatigue like you can't imagine and I wanted to stay in bed 24 hours a day. At that time, there was little awareness about organ donation. So for three years, we made the five-hour, one-way trips nearly every other month to the transplant center in Pittsburgh. During the Labor Day weekend in 1994, I was admitted to the hospital in Pittsburgh for testing on another problem. While there, they did triple the number of liver transplants due to the holiday travel accidents, but there was no liver for me. Either it was not my size, blood type or the fact that others needed the transplant more than me. A few days later, I was told I was a back-up for a liver. If the person was too ill to have the transplant, I would be next in line. Fortunately for that person, he or she became well enough for the transplant. Then I was told another liver was on its way, but again someone else needed it more than I did. Finally, the third time is a charm (or was it?)! The liver had been lacerated during the removal process, but since it was a large liver and just the one I needed, my surgeon decided to repair it the best he could. The transplant went well except for some bleeding problems due to the lacerations. There has been no further treatment to the liver since that time 24 years ago! Words cannot [...]

By |2019-01-03T08:35:24+00:00January 3rd, 2019|Cabell County, West Virginia|0 Comments

Joy- Liver Recipient

I was born and raised in Cabell County, W.Va., and other than living many years ago for 3 ½ years in Texas I have lived the rest of my life in the Huntington area. My story never gets old for me but at times when I look back now some of it seems very surreal and I wonder how in the world I got through some of the terribly painful times. There is no question in my mind it was my faith that gave me the strength. Faith is not believing God can, Faith is knowing that God will, and for me I can finish it by saying that He did. In 1994 through a routine blood test I found that I had PBC, Primary Biliary Cirrhosis. I am sure most if not all of you know that PBC is an autoimmune disease which strikes mostly middle aged ladies. I was 46 at the time. PBC is a slow progressing disease that really doesn’t have any symptoms to begin with. The doctor prescribed Actigall, a bile acid, and just watched as my numbers grew. It took about 9 years for me to get to the place where it was evident that I would need a liver transplant. The symptoms that had slowly developed were losing weight and less energy, though if you had known me then you were never have guessed it. I was always a person who would rather burnout than rust out so I never slowed down, but I didn’t know how bad I felt until after my transplant when I actually felt good again. My skin began to change colors. It wasn’t just yellow but it looked like a very ugly colored tan. And then there was the itching. It was the most difficult of all the symptoms for me to handle. The doctor gave me benadryl and atarax but there was no relief. Can you imagine itching all over your body, inside and out, places you couldn’t reach? It was worse than any of the pain I had experienced. There were times I would hold my hands under scalding water because the burn felt better than the itch. Pain is usually localized but the itching was everywhere. However, even with all this I was still very Blessed. I didn’t experience the high ammonia levels many experience and they warned us about, though I felt my mind was a little cloudy at times. But my disease had progressed to the stage of needing a transplant. I was referred by my Doctor and personal friend Dr. Florencio Neri of Princeton to Dr. Matulis (a gastro doc) in Charleston. He set up an evaluation for me at the Starzl Institute at UPMC in Pittsburgh. I started the process in January 2005 of having all of the testing done (which was extensive). I traveled to Pittsburgh a couple times for them to complete all the tests. Then on Feb. 3 I got the call. "Mrs. Bryant we are putting you [...]

By |2019-01-03T08:29:46+00:00January 3rd, 2019|Cabell County, West Virginia|0 Comments

Mickey-Kidney Recipient

Little describes better my appreciation for organ donation, its proponents, and families who make it possible than a letter I composed shortly after my kidney transplant. The purpose of the letter was to express my gratitude to the family of a young woman whose death nearly three years ago made available to me the incredible gift of life. My thanks to Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates for offering me this opportunity to share with others the personal significance of the goodness and unselfishness of that family. Dear Kidney Donor Family: I write to express my profound gratitude for the life-changing gift that your generosity and thoughtfulness has provided. The kidney transplant has given me a second chance to experience a normal life, free of the rigors of hemodialysis. My wife and twin sons also want you to know how grateful they are. For 20 long months, I awoke at 4 a.m. three days a week to prepare for my 5:30 a.m. dialysis sessions. The sessions were exhausting and challenging, and appeared to be never-ending. Your gift brought that to a conclusion. I realize that because of the passing of your loved one, the transplant was made possible. And I know your loss is of a magnitude that few of us can comprehend. Please know that because of the transplant and your gracious gesture, another life was prolonged and possibly saved. Again, thank you. One of the things I hope to resume as a result of the transplant is my passion for writing. I spent more than 33 years as a reporter, editor and general manager for daily newspapers in the Midwest and South, before chronic kidney disease and kidney cancer forced me into early retirement nearly three years ago. I simply lost my energy and my drive to write after I became ill. I already am experiencing a renewed desire to get back to the keyboard. The kidney started working almost immediately, and it and I seem to be adjusting well to one another. I promise to take care of it. I’d like you to know, too, that the transplant team at Charleston Area Medical Center respected your privacy, and protected your anonymity. I was advised only that the kidney came from a young woman. The transplant team is excellent and works extremely hard to make certain the patients in its care do everything to nurture and protect the precious gifts they receive. Please let me thank you once again for helping me return to a life that I wasn’t sure I would ever see again. It is truly a miracle. With great affection and sincere regard, Mickey Johnson

By |2019-01-03T08:18:55+00:00January 3rd, 2019|Cabell County, West Virginia|0 Comments