Chopped Liver - A Community for Live Organ Donors and Recipients

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wining and dining for a great cause

This Sunday I have the tough, tough task of wining and dining with the American Liver Foundation Minnesota chapter and 200 supporters at the annual Flavors Culinary Gala, an amazing experience where 20 of the Twin Cities' best chefs each host a table for 10 and cook a five-course, wine-paired gourmet meal, table side. Sigh. Someone's got to do it, right?

If you'd like to be one of those someones, you can! Tickets are still on sale, and you don't have to live in Minnesota -- the ALF has these Flavors culinary galas in nearly every state. Find your state's gala and other event information at this link.

I go for three reasons. First, I've sort of joined the board of the ALF Minnesota chapter. (Yeah, oops. I was bored again.) Second, I love the networking -- 200 people in tuxedos and gowns, holding checkbooks and Amex Platinum cards, each with some reason to care about liver health and organ issues. Where better to drop the words "Greatest Gift Foundation" a few times? And third, well, it's a great cause, planned by great people. Its yummilicious. And best of all, it gives me a chance to wear my expensive Jingle Jangle dress a second time. Amortization, hooray!
Attendees also walk away with a CD full of the chef's recipes. I'll post my favorite on the blog next week.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A new living donor joins our community

A special hello and hurrah to Tara, who is on her way to donating her liver to her step-father, who needs the transplant due to hepatitis and cirrhosis. Like so many of us who discovered we needed a creative outlet to express ourselves during this difficult and exciting time, she has started a blog, called "Liver n Onions," and I've posted a perma-link to it in the right-hand column. Stop by and wish her well!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The agony of the wait

My heart goes out to a young couple of siblings named Matt and Megan, who are traveling together on the journey Joe and I went through of brother-sister liver unity. Their mom Cindy has been writing to me as their story unfolds, and her latest update introduced a circumstance I hadn't heard of from other readers yet, one more "complication" among many that can add to the agonizing waiting period donors and recipients often go through. Get this:

Megan, who's in her mid 20s now, was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in her late teens -- the result of blood transfusions she had as a very young child over a decade earlier. Since then she has suffered from cirrhosis, Crohn's disease, and diabetes. In October, when Cindy first wrote to me, Megan had level-4 liver disease, with AFP levels through the roof; her physicians were certain it was liver cancer. Enter Matt, her brother, who was cleared to be her donor in February. Great news! But on the same day he was approved, Megan's AFP levels mysteriously dropped severely, and her perplexed docs decided not to schedule surgery, at least for now. What kind of news is that?!? For Cindy, Matt, and Megan, it's difficult news -- and I can understand why. On one hand it's a possible miracle that Megan's body is healing itself. On the other hand, it's just another speed bump that causes a longer wait for the transplant she'll ultimate need. She is still incredibly sick, and Matt is ready for the surgery, but everything is stuck in a holding pattern. Any of us who have had to wait a single day for surgery once we know it's going to happen can attest to how difficult this must be for all of them.

There are no easy answers for why life throws us these curves. All we can do is stay strong and hope things are unfolding the way they do for some sort of reason. But as Cindy wrote to me, "It is so encouraging that living donation is giving us hope." If you have stories of your own wait or can relate, I'd welcome your comments. And if anyone out there has ever heard of AFP levels suddenly plummeting after several weeks of elevation, please let me know!

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