You know that very first journal page? The one where I told you about my friend Tanya Herrold and asked you to pray for her dad, who was waiting on a liver transplant? Well, read on my friends! Tanya has provided us with an update AND with a new journal page…
I have told this story at least 1000 times to anyone who would listen yet this is the first time I am putting it on “paper.” Papa contracted Hepatitis C but was never diagnosed until he donated blood for the first time. Within a couple of months of the diagnosis, he was in end stage liver failure. SCARY!!! Well, none of us were sure what that meant so when they asked him if he wanted to be put on the transplant list, he said “no.” He got really sick one time and decided he wanted to live and wanted an opportunity to receive a new liver so he asked to be placed on the list.
I am going to spare you the details of how the list works. It can be tedious and I realize not everyone is as interested as I am in the details. To give you perspective, this was all in 2008. At times we thought a call may never come. One very snowy day in 2012 he called and said “They’re transplanting me!” (I love the way he said it!) So we rushed around, called everyone and spent the day at the hospital about 15 hours after the initial call, we were told the liver was not good for transplant. This was tough on everyone. We ran the gamut of emotions that day. We were really shocked when about two months later there was another offer made to him. We tried to contain our excitement this time. That was until the anesthesiologists came in and said “We are 15 minutes away, we are just waiting on the last biopsy result.” We were full of hope! Thirty minutes later a Resident came in and explained the liver was not good for transplant. Our hopes were squashed! Papa said “There will never be a liver.” I encouraged him and prayed that there would be. We lived our lives waiting for phone calls – whether it was to say there was a liver or for my mom to call to say he was not well and she needed help getting him to the hospital – every time the phone rang our hearts stopped.
Well on February 15 at 5 p.m. we received another call, there was a liver. We kept our emotions intact. That is not an easy thing to do for 12 hours. The anesthesiologists came in and said “we are waiting on the final biopsy results, we should know in 15 minutes.” My heart sank. I willed the phone to ring, I paced, I cried a bit and then I gave it to God. I did the same thing three days earlier, I told God I could no longer handle the worry, stress or frustration and I asked Him to handle it. I sat in a chair in a hospital room full of family all feeling the same way – knowing this may be our last few minutes of hope – and I relaxed knowing God’s timing is perfect. The doctors came in and explained it was a go! More than 12 hours after receiving the initial call, he was going into the O.R. I was so full of joy it was coming out of my eyes. I was able to pray with everyone and I asked the doctors if they wanted to join us – they did!
I prayed for the family of the donor. See, organ donation is a personal choice and I respect your decision regardless. However, this family will always be heroes in my eyes. They made the decision to donate the organs of their 20 year old family member. They provided hope and joy for nearly 50 people all in the midst of their mourning. I cannot imagine what that took. You see, I am an organ donor, my family knows and they do not have to make that decision when I pass but I don’t know this persons story and I pray for their family regularly.
My daughter hugged one of the surgeons and told them “Please take care of my papa.” She was able to thank that same surgeon 13.5 hours later when he came to tell us the surgery was a success. She then told the surgeon “No one should ever have to wait this long.”
Papa is doing well since his transplant. The liver was working and making bile before he left the O.R. He has had some setbacks which is to be expected but overall he is making progress and we are thankful for each and every step forward. He is still in the hospital and we do not know when he will be ready to come home but they are making sure he is on the right path. We could not be more thankful to our heroes, for without them we would not have the hope of many more years with Papa.
I won’t bore you with statistics and how organ donations work but please know the need is real. If you are interested in learning more, looking at how many people await organs or if you want to sign up to be an organ donor – please consider visiting one of the websites below. I believe it is about education and conversation. I do not believe this decision should have to be made at the DMV, ICU or the Emergency Room.