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One Month Liver-versary

Today marks one month since Reid was wheeled into the Operating Room for his liver transplant. One month since our lives changed forever. That was the best day, but I’ll be honest – it was also the hardest day of my life. I don’t think we were fully prepared for the emotions that would surround that day. And it’s just now catching up to us that this happened. One month ago he received the ultimate gift. He received the gift of life. The gift of not living with his disease, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, and all of the symptoms that came with it. The gift of not having to worry every day that cancer was taking over his liver. The gift of looking forward to watching his babies be born, and not having to worry how long he’d be around to raise them. The gift of no longer wondering whether he would ever get the liver transplant he needed. An absolutely priceless gift.

I don’t even know that I can properly vocalize the emotions we felt in the 33 hours leading up to him being taken back for surgery. We were anxious, guarded (in case it didn’t work out), grateful, sad (for the donor’s family), excited, nervous, skeptical, elated, and did I mention grateful? It was not lost on us that at the exact moment we were preparing for what could be the answer to our prayers, another family was grieving and saying their final goodbyes to their son. Talk about a mix of emotions. We always knew that may be the case that would lead to Reid getting a liver – another family experiencing a great loss – but nothing prepares you for that moment and those feelings. Reid’s donor, Clayton, had decided long before that day that when he passed he wanted to save others by being an organ donor. And his parents chose to directly donate his liver to my husband. They chose us. Talk about humbling.

That day – January 14th, 2019 – will forever be the day that our lives were changed for the better. But I mentioned that it was also a hard day. That day, they almost lost my husband on the table (one day soon I’ll share the full story). That day, I saw him in a state I never want to see him again. That day, we questioned whether we had made the wrong decision by accepting a liver (yes, I know that sounds crazy). That day was the first day that I thought I might have to live life without my husband by my side. If you’ve been following our story for a while, you know that I share the good, the bad, and the ugly. While that day was amazing in so many ways, I would be lying if I didn’t share the hard parts too. Fortunately, the next day was better, and slowly things progressed. But to be at a wedding reception with your outwardly healthy husband on a Saturday night, and then walk into an ICU room on a Monday night and see him hooked to all sorts of tubes and machines and unable to talk – that was so incredibly hard. But he was here. He was with us, and was fighting to make sure he stayed that way. How could I feel sorry for myself on that day, when another family didn’t have that option anymore?

Through his death, Clayton greatly affected the lives of over 80 individuals. 80. And my husband was one of those. The days after his transplant were so hard, and the last several weeks of complications and recovery have been extremely challenging. But were they all worth it? Abso-freaking-lutely.
I love that Reid’s one month liver-versary falls on National Donor Day. Because I hope that our story can positively impact someone else who is on the fence about organ donation. You can save lives. Lives like my husband’s. Lives like the 80ish other people that Clayton helped.

Today we had Reid’s weekly check in with the transplant team at Methodist, and I’m so happy to report that all of his liver function tests are NORMAL. Before transplant, he hadn’t had normal liver numbers in at least 9 years. An amazing human being’s liver is now working hard to keep my husband healthy and alive. How crazy is that? He is now healthier (on the inside) than he’s been in several years. Sure, he still has some work ahead of him to get his physical strength back and to gain back the weight and muscle mass that he’s lost over the last month… but he has that option and will work hard to get there. He has a new lease on life – all because someone else checked that box and decided they’d save others after they were gone. Because of Clayton and the Sparks family, we are able to celebrate today. And for that we are eternally grateful.


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