Living Donor Liver Transplant | Kathy & Sarah’s Story

[sound of lapping waves
and birds chirping] KATHY: When it happened, there wasn’t a thing
to be done about it that I could do personally. It wasn’t something
that I went looking for, or expected. It’s an indescribable thing. People don’t make sacrifice
like that for you. It’s a very powerful thing. I met my husband
at church when I was 16, so it’s 36 years now
that we’ve been married. Grace is our oldest,
Alicia is our middle daughter, and Sarah is the youngest. Sarah, can I have my teacup? SARAH: Yeah. KATHY: I’ve always
had a condition called fatty liver, and that’s kind of a precursor to what happened. Around 2014 and ’15,
I just started being sick. And the local doctor sent me
to be evaluated at Penn, and that’s when I found out you had cirrhosis and it was,
it’s a permanent condition that does not improve. To be told you will not recover without intervention is a different thing that being told you have a donor because in that middle time, it was just a matter of waiting. It wasn’t until I read through all the literature
that Penn had given me, that I found out about
the living donor option. A living donor
liver transplantation is a procedure
where we can take part of a healthy human liver
from a donor and provide it to a patient
who needs a liver transplant. In both the donor
and the recipient, the liver can regenerate
and grow back to the size that it needs to be. It’s a very good option. It can improve
your long-term survival. You can get a transplant
before you get too sick. So, this is the one
we’re going to be on, I think. – Which one?
– With the American flag. SARAH: When I found out
that my mom didn’t have to wait, and I could help her
right then, there was no question
that I would pursue a living donor transplant. DR. OLTHOFF:
We want to make sure that there’s one team
that’s taking care of the donor and whose primary responsibility
is the donor and the donor’s safety; and another team that’s
taking care of the recipient and all that goes into someone
who has liver failure and liver disease. The team approach, where there were
so many different advocates from so many different
disciplines working together just gave me
a whole lot of confidence that this was
going to come out well and we were gonna be okay. To be in Dr. Olthoff’s hands
was so reassuring. I remember after the surgery,
she came in and she had been
at the hospital all night. She sat down on the bed, and you know,
I just wanted her to know… the work that she does
is so important; so important. Our patients,
they become part of our family from the moment
they walk in the door. And I hope they do feel
part of the family. It’s great to see them thrive. I mean, it’s what I expect. It’s why we do what we do. KATHY:
After having the transplant, I have a profound sense
of the preciousness of life. Had this not worked out
and we didn’t have the surgery, the outcome could have been
very different and I might not have known and watched my grandchildren grow up. SARAH:
We just built our fist boat, last year’s goal. And there’s a big
launch day ceremony and everybody puts their boat
in the water and mom was there. It would have been a completely
different day if she weren’t. Sharing things with family
is really important and that’s how
you get through life. I don’t have to doubt
that she’ll be there. When you need your mom,
you need your mom so… You actually want me
to say words? [laughter] SARAH:
When you go through something that is this difficult… KATHY: Yeah, that’s the day
we came home. SARAH:
You want the best on your team. And I really think that
that’s what Penn gives you; the best folks in your corner. [♪♪♪]

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