Liver Transplant: Kathi's Story
"Please think about the rewards that come when organs are donated. Make your family aware of your own wishes regarding donation."
-Kathi, who underwent a liver transplant at UW Hospital and Clinics
Jill shares Mike's story about his life and the generous donation he made
Kathi (pictured below right with Jill) received a liver transplant at UW Hospital and Clinics on June 23, 2007. She recounts her experience.
"I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 1999.
From July 2003 to June 2004, I went through the 48-week treatment of Interferon and Ribavirin to get rid of the virus. The virus became undetectable, but returned quickly.
I was referred to the UW Hospital and Clinics Transplant Program in January 2006, and one year later was so sick that I was placed on the national wait list to receive a new liver.
My phone rang at 5:40am on June 23. They had a liver for me, which gave me until 7:30am to get ready and get there. I got ready quickly, and then sat down to make out our bills before we left. I'm sure my husband Brad was more nervous than I was. He said, "What are you doing? We have to get going!"
I went into surgery at 11:30 that night and was done at 6:30 the next morning. Everything went extremely well and I was discharged eight days later. Just eight weeks later I was back to work (half days), and four weeks after that I went back to work full time.
I wrote an anonymous thank you letter to my donor's family. To my extreme delight I received an anonymous letter in return from my donor's wife, Jill. I learned that my donor's name was Mike. Brad and I were in tears as we read it.
We continued to share letters, and soon had plans to meet. Jill, and Mike and Jill's daughter, Sierra, are now like family to Brad and I. The other members of Mike's family hold a special place in our hearts as well.
Mike died suddenly of a ruptured brain aneurysm at the age of 45. My oldest sister died of the exact same thing 20 years earlier at the age of 53.
When we donated my sister's organs, as was her request, I never would have guessed that I would be on the receiving end of organ donation 20 years later. My heart went out to Mike's family. I knew they were grieving just as I had 20 years ago. However, my family and I found comfort knowing that others would benefit from the gifts my sister gave. Jill told me that she feels that same way about Mike's donation.
Jill and I now learned that our lives are filled with coincidences.
Mike's birthday was February 6, which is also my wedding anniversary. I was 14 years old when my father died suddenly, and Sierra was only 13 years old when she lost her father.
On my seventh birthday, I received a piano from my oldest sister (the one who died from the brain aneurysm.) I took piano lessons from that time through high school, and in corresponding with Jill I learned that Sierra takes piano lessons and plays quite well.
Sierra and I also share April birthdays.
I received a beautiful orchid from my husband's co-workers when I had my transplant. I awoke on February 6, 2008, (our anniversary and Mike's birthday) and was amazed to see that my orchid had bloomed once again. We now believe that these things are all not merely coincidence, but more like miracles and Divine intervention.
I cannot begin to express my appreciation for Mike's precious gift, and the love and support I received from the Lord above, my wonderful husband Brad and my family and friends. I am so grateful for the great skill and care I received from everyone at the UW Hospital and Clinics.
My journey is not over. There is much more to come, including our first grandchild in March!
I have a bumper sticker on my car that reads: "Don't take your organs to Heaven: Heaven knows we need them here." Please think about the rewards that come when organs are donated. Make your family aware of your own wishes regarding donation. There are thousands of people on the waiting list who will be forever grateful to receive their own precious gift of life."