Friday, May 27, 2005

A New Liver

I won't bore you with the story of my life, instead i'll just tell you a bit about my 2 year struggle to live. In 2002 I was diagnosed with liver failure and was promptly told by my doctors in Atlanta that I was going to die, they could not do anything to help me. Shortly after that I was hospitalized with double pneumonia because of severe fluid buildup in my chest and lungs as a direct result of my dying liver. I called 911 when I started having great difficulty breathing and I was put in intensive care and I lapsed into a coma the same day I was admitted. I don't remember anything of the following month, all I do know is that I died and came back to life at least twice. I woke up a month later and was whisked back to New Orleans by my family.

My entire life was changed suddenly and I lost pretty much everything I owned in Atlanta. Thus began my 2 yr struggle to receive a liver transplant. Shortly after arriving in New Orleans I saw a family doctor that recommended me to go see a group of doctors at the Transplant Institute of N. O., part of the LSU medical network. They confirmed my diagnosis and interviewed me to help the staff of doctors and surgeons to decide if I was a suitable subject to receive a liver transplant. Luckily I met their psychological criteria and was approved but that meant I would become subject to a battery of tests to see if I was cancer-free and physically capable of surviving 10+ hours on an operating table. Again I passed all the tests. I know I make this sound easy so far but it wasn't. I would now begin an 18 month long odyssey of severe illness, barely alive at times and barely able to walk and talk when I was not bedridden. My mother cared for me and she was a rock thru the entire ordeal and I just can't describe how good she was. She kept me going in spirit even when I wished I would just die from the pain and suffering. I truly did not think I would make it, many many times. Let's skip ahead to the actual operation.

One day the hospital called me, out of the blue and announced they had found a suitable replacement liver for me and said to get there pronto. I arrived and was quickly washed and readied for the operation. My anticipation of receiving a new liver, balanced against the possibility of rejection from my body made me very nervous to say the least. I was afraid but overjoyed at the same time. Shortly after they cut me open my blood pressure started dropping and they had to abort the operation because they couldn't control my heart. They stapled me back up and I woke up in recovery and was told that my ordeal was far from over. I did not receive a new liver that day and that I now had to recover from the surgeries with out the benefit of a functioning liver.

Needless to say I was extremely ill now, horribly weakened from the failed operation and my body full of poisons that a healthy liver would normally remove from your system. All I had to show for it was a 14" long scar below my ribs going east-west and another 5" long going north adjacent from the long one. I have a normal 34" waist and a 14" long scar meant they nearly cut me in half!

6 weeks later July 9, 2004 the hospital called and said they had another suitable liver and they wanted to try again. The operation went perfectly this time around and the new liver immediately went to work removing all the toxins in my system and it helped immensely with my long recovery ordeal. I still had a very long way to go. I could not even feed myself at first but I quickly started to regain my health.

Daily physical therapy to recover my strength and a wonderful staff of nurses and doctors at Memorial Medical Hospital made it much easier. I owe these people many thanks and my undying gratitude. 5 months after the operation, here, the day after Christmas of 2004 I am alive and doing very well and am writing this to express that gratitude. Please do not pity me for the suffering as there were many many moments of joy and laughter in my life thru my journey to live. Instead laugh with me as I write about whatever pops into my head at my Web Log "se7en.

Here is a short list of people I would like to thank:

  • Dr. Luis Balart gastroenteroligist
  • Dr. Philip Boudreaux surgeon
  • David Seymour RN Transplant Coordinator
  • Belinda Brown RN Transplant Coordinator
  • The entire staff at LSU Transplant Center
  • The entire 4th floor staff Memorial Medical Transplant Unit
  • My Mother who kept me going no matter what.
  • My Sister and Brother and his family

  • And last but NOT least, the amazing donor and his/her family that allowed it to be donated!

Thank you all!