Happy 24th anniversary, liver!


Twenty-four years ago today, a sick little girl got a second chance at life early.

This little girl’s parents had been told a few months prior that she had a genetic disease that was slowly destroying her liver. She had probably two years max to live without a transplant (and she was only 2 at the time of this news).

Then the call came a few months later. A little boy had died in an accident and his family had decided to give the ultimate gift, the gift of life via his organs.

When the doctors took the little girl’s liver out, they informed her parents after that the timeline had been actually shorter than they had originally thought. It had been more like a few months without a transplant instead of a few years. In other words, a miracle that the liver arrived when it did.

That little girl was me.

Today is my 24th liver anniversary, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.

Every year on this date I try to find a way to tell my story, to raise awareness on the importance of organ donation. Please, if you’ve never looked into organ donation or have passed on signing that spot on your driver’s license, please please please hop over to the Donate Life America website for a few minutes to read stories similar to mine, get FAQ’s answered, or find out how else you can spread awareness.

But I also share my story because it’s a testament to God’s goodness. Twenty-four relatively healthy years with a transplanted liver is a big deal.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been told by doctors “Wow, you’re way healthier than you should be” or something to that effect (which, by the way, is a weird thing to say to a 12-year-old or 16-year-old, but I digress). I used to kind of blow them off and think “Whatever” about it, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize how much God has blessed me every day, every year of barely remembering that I’m a transplant patient.

A few months post-transplant. I was on a lot of medicine, including steroids, at that point, but now (praise God!) I only take one immunosuppressant daily.

I’m on the left, a few months post-transplant. I was on a lot of medicine, including steroids, at that point, but now (praise God!) I only take one immunosuppressant daily.

My parents did a phenomenal job when I was growing up of not treating me differently because of the transplant (except for the occasional ER runs to get a shot whenever we found out I had been exposed to chicken pox). They reminded me to take my medicine every day, but that was about it as far as special treatment. I honestly, after all these years, still have reminders go off every 12 hours on my phone so I take my medicine–otherwise I forget because life is just that normal for me. I’ll remember my transplant generally only when I see those reminders or when I see the scar that stretches nearly all the way across my stomach (though it’s much more faded now).
I went through a period in my teens where I was upset about the transplant. Upset that I was different in even the slightest way because, yes, I’ll always have to take medicine every day and I’ll always have to be vigilant to make sure I avoid contact with certain sick people (example: If you have shingles, please tell me!). I was also upset because I was trying to figure out the “Why?” Why would God allow this to happen to me, especially at such a young age? Why do I have to live my life with medicine every day to keep my body from rejecting my new liver? Why?But then one day I stumbled across Jeremiah 29:11 and it became a verse I cling to for some reasons other than just the transplant, but at times especially because of it.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

To prosper me and not to harm me. To give me a hope and a future.

Some of you may be thinking “Huh?” right now on why this makes sense as answers to the questions above.

But I have a hope, in Him and in Him alone. I have a hope because He gifted me a second chance at life twice. The first was when He died on the cross for my sins and the sins of everyone and gave me the opportunity to ask Him to be my Lord and Savior, which is why I now have a peace about this current life and eternity. The second was when He allowed me to receive a new liver.

I have a future because I live life more to the fullest now than maybe I would have without a transplant. When I’m reminded at doctor visits that I should be sicker, that I have a higher risk of cancer down the road, or that my kidneys could be issues in the future because the meds that keep me alive now, you learn to never take anything for granted, even if living this way is all I’ve ever known.

All that to say, I still don’t know 100 percent why I was the 1 in 100,000 who have the genetic disease I had. I might never fully know that answer this side of eternity. But what I do know is that I am thankful for it and I intend to not waste it. And it all starts by giving the glory back to Him.

So, happy 24 years, liver! I’m glad we’ve stuck together this long. Let’s never, ever break up, OK?

PS, I would love nothing more than for this blog post to be passed around and shared on my liver anniversary. So please, spread the word, share the link! The more awareness, the better. If you help share the word, you can even consider it my liver anniversary, Christmas and birthday present to me all rolled up in one. 😉