Submitted by Red Cross employee, Beverly Garner…
You have heard the saying, “you don’t know how precious life is until you almost lose it!” Well, it’s true. I came too close to losing mine thirteen years ago. I was leading a normal life—a forty year old wife and mother of two young children. When I began feeling tired and lethargic, I chalked it up to motherhood!
I started having other symptoms that sent me to the doctor. She found that my liver enzymes were all out of whack. She was running hepatitis tests and every other test you can imagine. All came back negative. I was getting sicker and sicker. All I wanted to do was sleep. I certainly couldn’t take care of the needs of a family. My internist referred me to a gastrointestinal specialist. He ran a battery of tests including an endoscopy and a liver biopsy. He found that I was in liver failure—didn’t know why—but he knew he had to get me to UNC Hospital if I was going to have a chance for survival.
I was transported to UNC Hospital by ambulance on a Friday in mid-May. My liver was failing and once one system starts failing-others follow suit. My kidneys stopped working and I was in a hypotensive coma (with very low blood pressure). The doctors told my family that I only had a few days left before my time ended on this earth.
My only chance was a liver transplant. I was placed on the transplant list on Saturday with the unlikely hope for survival without a new liver. People wait for years for an organ transplant. Many people die waiting. By the grace of God, a liver became available on Sunday, Mother’s day. Since I was the sickest (at the top of the UNOS waiting list) and the organ was compatible with my blood type, the transplant was a go!
The doctors were amazed that I received an organ so quickly. The nurses told my family that it just didn’t happen like this. They also asked my family if we prayed-my family gave them a resounding YES!
My new liver came from San Antonio, Texas from a woman who had been in a car accident. I am thankful for her and her family every day. Without her generosity and the Lord’s care, I would not be here.
My transplant could not have been successful without blood transfusions. Liver transplants can use from 50-200 units of blood! I received 70 units of RED CROSS blood! I counted each bag listed on my hospital record. A very cool thing is that I work for the American Red Cross now as a donor recruiter. I showed the record to our charge nurse and she recognized some of the identifying numbers from the blood bags listed as coming from the Winston-Salem Service area! I love that!
By the way-the doctors were never really sure why my liver failed. They thought it could have been auto-immune hepatitis (where the body attacks itself). It could have been Wilson’s disease-they just were not sure.
I am very thankful for life and proud to be working for the American Red Cross. Thank you donors—from the bottom of my heart!