Chopped Liver - A Community for Live Organ Donors and Recipients

Friday, November 18, 2005

By popular demand: Q&A

What’s wrong with Joe?
He has Primary Schlerosing Cholangitis (PSC). (Football fans: This is what led to Walter Payton's death, although his disease progressed to cancer, which my brother's hasn't yet done.) It’s a rare auto-immune disease that attacks the ducts leading into, through, and out of his liver. A liver transplant will cure him, but he’s stuck in a Catch-22: Thanks to the progression pattern of PSC, he won’t score high enough on the national organ donation registration list to get a deceased-donor organ until he’s so bad that an organ transplant wouldn’t do any good. So a live-donor transplant is his best hope.

What’s the likelihood you’ll be accepted as a donor?
Given my health, age, and the law of averages, it’s about 80% likely.

When would the surgery take place, and how long would recovery last?
The first week of December at the earliest. After six weeks, I’d resume some normal activity, including spring semester’s Ops Management class, yippy skippy! But I probably wouldn’t be back to work for a full two months.

What are the worst risks to you?
According to the pleasant, flight-attendant-like woman in the video I watched at the hospital, the rare severe side effects of the surgery are blood clotting, bile leak, and death. Key word: Rare.

Is the transplant team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital any good?
They’re among the top ten live-liver-donor transplant clinics in the U.S. The surgeon is world renown for this specialty. Sounds like I’d be in pretty good hands.

Egad, will you have to give up drinking?
Already have, in fact. But not permanently. The liver returns to full function and eventually I'll be able to do everything I can do today.

Are you terrified?
You know, not really. In Chicago I met a woman who had donated one week before. She’s 50, and she looked great. She was walking around, she had good color and some energy, and most important, she was practically glowing with joy because her liver recipient was feeling so much better. I won’t say I’m not scared, or that I’m looking forward to the pain and permanent scar. It just all pales in comparison to the amazing benefits. That said, talk to me in a couple of weeks…


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