Liver transplant

Kevin's liver transplant success a testimony to the care he received

Man in glasses smiling outdoors while leaning against a rock wall.

When Kevin Larson was hospitalized for end-stage liver disease at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he found himself at University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, for 47 days, getting progressively sicker before receiving a lifesaving liver transplant.

Because of pandemic restrictions, he wasn’t permitted any visitors, which meant he was alone.

Except he wasn’t alone. “I remember how amazing everybody was,” he says of his caregivers. “I look back, and the hospitalists, the transplant people, the pharmacist, the lab techs, the social workers, the nursing assistants and the nurses were great. Nutritional services called me three times a day about what I wanted to eat. There were sometimes lines outside my room because there were so many people who were waiting to help me. Looking back, it’s amazing that I got all that attention and service.”

For a while in the hospital, Kevin wasn’t even fully aware of the care he was receiving. He was suffering from hepatic encephalopathy, which is brain dysfunction due to liver damage. As a result, he was delirious much of the time. He’s glad his brother and father took him to the hospital, because if he had spent a day or two more at home, he would have died.

The liver transplant was a success, and now, nearly four years after his surgery, Kevin remains incredibly grateful. Every Friday, he travels from his home in Madison to his daughter’s house in Waukesha, Wisconsin, to watch his 2-year-old grandson. He works out at a health club at least four days a week and enjoys walking and golfing.

“They didn’t give up on me at University Hospital, and that’s a huge deal to me,” he said. “My brother, daughter and father were also instrumental in my recovery.”

“My donor saved my life,” he added. “I treat my scar like a badge of honor.”

Kevin is now a member of the Patient and Family Advisory Council at the hospital, a group that helps doctors, nurses and other staff members improve the care they provide.

“I just love telling my story,” Kevin said.