In the spring of 1988, my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with mononucleosis and sent home with instructions to get lots of sleep and limit my activity, as well as follow up with the doctor in two months. The follow up turned out to be a referral to see an internal medicine physician as my liver function tests had not improved.
After several weeks of tests I was diagnosed with a liver disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, In primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), the bile ducts inside and outside the liver become inflamed and scarred. As the scarring increases, the ducts become blocked, causing liver damage. This disease is not commonly found in eighteen year old girls, and physician who diagnosed me basically sent me home with very little hope that my disease could be cured.
I remember leaving the hospital scared and confused and thinking I am only eighteen, I have so much yet to do in my life. I wanted to go to college, get married and have children. Not sure what to do next, my dearest friends’ parents put me in touch with a fabulous doctor at the University Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Michael Sorrell. He too, confirmed that I had PSC. I remember he sat me down and said, “Go and do what you want to do, go to college, get married, have kids. The worst thing that will happen is that you will need a liver transplant someday.” Wow! Still a bit scary but I was provided some hope.
The next couple of years I went to college, worked, hung out with friends, dated and tried to live a normal life. Then at the age of 22 I started having serious side effects of the disease and after several trips to the ER, hospital stays and doctors visits it was evident that in order to live I would need a liver transplant. I was added to the liver transplant list in 1994 and the waiting began.
Over two years later, my pager went off. I vividly remember, I was out with friends and almost left the pager in my car, commenting that “this thing will never go off.” My friend insisted that I put it on; it was if someone was watching out for me because sure enough the call came. I was in complete shock; I immediately called my mom, family, boyfriend (now husband) and friends. Within a couple of hours I was at the Nebraska Medical Center and the following day I awoke from the surgery. One of the first comments from my husband was that he didn’t realize how blue my eyes were, because up until that point my eyes were very yellow from being jaundiced.
After my transplant I had immediate rejection which was controlled with medication. Within one year of my transplant I was back to working full time. Of course there were bumps in the road, but all in all my life had completely changed. My energy level increased dramatically and I could once again go,go,go!!
This incredible gift has provided me with life! I married four years later and with in five years post transplant we had our first child, Isabel and three years later we were blessed with our second child, Noah. My children are the light of my life and to think these beautiful miracles would not be here if it were not for the generosity of a stranger’s decision to donate their loved ones organs.
Not only have I been blessed with children but I also have been able to create memories with my family, friends and 12 nieces and nephews!! WOW!! Life is Awesome!