Throughout my life, I never had any serious health problems and would never have thought I would need a liver transplant at the age of nineteen. However, in March of 2009, in a matter of weeks, I went from a happy, healthy college student and athlete to a gravely ill girl.
My symptoms began with fatigue, but being a busy teenager, I attributed it to the stress of college exams. Within a couple weeks my symptoms increased to joint pain, nausea and jaundice. A trip to the doctor revealed slightly elevated liver enzymes. Within days, my symptoms escalated and it was clear there was something very wrong. I was admitted to the hospital on March 30 and after numerous tests the doctors believed they had a diagnosis.
On March 31, the gastroenterologist informed us of the news that would change my life forever. He said he believed I had Wilson’s Disease, a rare genetic disease that caused my liver to accumulate toxic amounts of copper. He said I was in acute liver failure and was in desperate need of a liver transplant. I would need to be transported to a transplant center as soon as possible. After being admitted to the ICU, I was placed as “Status 1″ on the transplant list. My condition deteriorated so quickly my family could hardly fathom what was happening. My parents were so overwhelmed.
With medical support, I clung to life. All the while, my family prayed for a miracle. On April 7, our prayers were answered. I received the gift of life. I knew that to get this gift another family had to make a very difficult decision. My family and I are forever grateful to them. At that moment, their selfless decision saved my life.
Within 48 hours of surgery, I was on my laptop updating my friends and Facebook. I was determined to make a quick recovery and make the most of my second chance at life. In two months, I was back to running and finishing my school work so I wouldn’t lose my place on the Dean’s list.
Every day I think of my donor and his family. Their generous gift has given me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of instilling a love of learning in the lives of children. Since I was a young child, I have always wanted to be a teacher. I came very close to losing that dream and now that I have a second chance, I am more determined than ever to pursue my goal. Before this happened, I always believed in organ donation, but now I truly realize how important it is. As a teaching professional, I plan to share my story and educate families on the importance of organ donation. I hope by sharing my personal story, I will inspire others to give the best gift they can ever give… the gift of life.