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The Witness Newspaper

Sliver of Liver: A Story about Donating Life

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April: The start of Spring, sunshine, Easter, and National Donate Life Month. National Donate Life Month is a time of awareness on how great an impact donors can have on the lives of families awaiting transplant.

In 2016, more than 33,600 transplants brought renewed life to patients and their families and communities (from 9,900 deceased and 5,900 living donors).  More than 116,000 men, women and children await lifesaving organ transplants. 12% of patients waiting are in need of a liver. Living donation of part of the liver can help these patients (the remaining portion of the donor liver will regenerate and regain full function).

In 2016, more than 33,600 transplants brought renewed life to patients and their families and communities (from 9,900 deceased and 5,900 living donors).

October 31, 2017 my family’s world changed forever and for the better. My sister, Addie, who is two years old received her liver transplant, from a close family friend, Angel. My sister has a rare genetic condition named “argininosuccinate lyase deficiency” which simply put would not let her digest protein. She was falling behind in all aspects and was always sort of disengaged.  The disease prevents the liver from properly processing proteins, which allows toxic ammonia to build up in her bloodstream, potentially causing brain damage or death.

Addie and Angel

Her doctors decided transplant was the best option, which was scary for my entire family. Family could not donate due to her condition being genetic.

When Angel said she would donate we were hesitant because we wanted her to think her decision through because after all, it is literally life changing. Angel told us “If this was our family, we would want someone to do it for us.” From there the decision for Angel was simple: she was ready to donate, so we got everything in line with Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital and transplant was scheduled for Halloween.

Fast forward, 89 days post-transplant and Addie is finally home after enduring long days in the hospital. Now, she is a totally different baby: one with hair, personality, and a fire in her spirit we’re sure she gets from her donor. It is because of Angel that our family gets to breathe a little easier: we don’t live in fear of high ammonia levels, or the wonder of every phone calling saying “We have a liver for you.” Our families now have a special bond that not everyone gets to share.

National Donate Life Month—a reminder how much checking a box at the BMV can do for families across the nation. You could potentially be saving the life of someone you know and love.

Grace Barger

My name is Grace Barger, and I am a junior studying English Education. One day I hope to obtain my Ph.D. and become an English professor. I enjoy painting my nails, organizing, and reading.


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