for Veterans and the Public
Patient testimonials may have been shortened to fit into this booklet.
I was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1996. I had no idea what the disease was or what its treatment was all about. At the time, there were no support groups and very little in the way of education for Veterans; I didn't really know how to take care of myself (or my liver). After a long battle to get help failed, I ended up in liver failure and had to be transplanted. Though the process of evaluation for transplant was trying and at times, overwhelming, my faith and desire to live helped me persevere. My transplant was successful and I'm grateful to be alive. While I am limited in certain respects, I am able to live a very prosperous life. I have found educating and assisting others who struggle with liver disease to be very fulfilling.
Gene, Veteran, Transplanted in 2000
The best job I've ever had was being Amy's mom. Becoming a donor mom was the result of a tragic accident. Amy gave so much in her short, almost 18 years and now her legacy continues. I am so proud of my daughter and equally as honored to be able to speak passionately about the importance of organ and tissue donation. In a world so full of turmoil, I live in peace and comfort knowing that lives have been saved, families spared the pain of loss, sight restored and bodies mended. So much good out of one very special young lady. Of course, I miss her terribly, but I get to brag about her and all the wonderful good she has done. How cool is that!
Terry, Donor Mom
Terry's daughter Amy passed away in 2000
I was transplanted in May 2003. With my transplant came a few bumps, which are very uncommon in the transplant world today. Transplants have changed so much since they started that you can be transplanted one year and the next year something has changed for the better, either with the medications or the procedure. Nine months after transplant I went into rejection and developed bad recurrent hepatitis C. My condition was so bad that I was approved for another transplant, but have not yet needed it. After a lot of great doctors and a very positive attitude and some crazy changes and combinations of meds I'm doing GREAT considering. Through everything I've been through since I was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1995, I kept a very positive attitude and took one day at a time. Never worried about what was going to happen next. I worried about the problem when it happened. Most of all this is out of our hands and what happens will happen.
Once I was done with all the requirements needed to get on the transplant list I started feeling much better. The stress was not near as bad. No one person goes through this the same. The important things are STAY POSITIVE and do everything possible to stay as healthy as possible, even if you have a bad day. Remember every day is a different day.
With all that has happened with my transplant and knowing how hard it is to receive one plus get through it. I would do it again tomorrow.
When my husband, Wayne, was diagnosed with liver disease, I had no idea of the amazing journey we would travel together to save his life. Even though I had been in the medical field for 30+ years, my knowledge did not prepare me for the unrelenting demands upon my time and emotions. We began the final road in February of 2002. Wayne endured countless tests during the process of being evaluated and then accepted for a new liver. By January 2003, Wayne was critically ill. He had been transported to the Portland VA from the Seattle VA. He was on life support in the Intensive Care Unit. I lived at the "Liver Lodge" in Vancouver, Washington, with other family members who were waiting, being evaluated or assisting their loved ones with recovery. These people became my second family and I will treasure their friendship always.
We were so blessed when the call came to us at 11:00PM on January 30, 2003. A liver had been procured and Wayne was scheduled for surgery early January 31, 2003. Thanks to the wonderful giving of the donor family, Wayne was saved. The recovery was long but worth every minute of the struggle. I cannot begin to thank all of the wonderful members of the Portland Liver Team and the ongoing strength of Wayne's Seattle Hepatologist. Being a "caregiver" is the priority for the patient, but without the continued support of our family, friends and the entire medical team, I would have lost faith many times. The process can be frightening and frustrating, but the new life given and to have the person you love still with you makes all the battles fade from significance. Wayne's priorities center around his home and all his beautiful grandchildren, who are so grateful to have him in their lives. We both are avid supporters of the organ donor program and are available to help others who need assistance, questions answered or a strong shoulder to lean on if this journey is one they decide to travel.
Nada, wife/caregiver for Wayne, Transplant recipient
It has been almost three years since I had my Liver Transplant at the VA hospital in Portland, Oregon. The most significant thing about a liver transplant, or for that matter any transplant, is it changes your perspective on life. You tend to have a one day at a time philosophy. The second most profound aspect would be my caregiver "wife" prior to surgery and post operatively -- because of her perseverance and devotion to a headstrong, cranky and usually unreasonably demanding individual! Simply put, I wouldn't be here today had it not been for her. Since my transplant, I attend a Liver Transplant support group for both post-op liver transplants and for individuals contemplating whether or not to start the process of qualifying for a transplant. These group meetings provide these people the opportunity to get important questions answered from people who have already been through the ordeal. For anyone facing the prospect of getting an organ transplant, it cannot be overemphasized that one maintain a positive mindset. The entire process is physically, emotionally and mentally draining and strong support of family and friends is critical for, at the very least a satisfactory recovery. As I mentioned above, I wouldn't be here if not for a very generous family of the Donor, my wife and the will to survive. I'm generally always available to talk with and answer questions for the entire transplant ordeal, and so is my wife for anyone contemplating a transplant.
Wayne, Liver Transplant recipient 2003, Veteran