Christy’s Transplant Story: From Completely Hopeless to Completely Hopeful
|Christy holds her pinwheel necklace in support of organ donation.
“I had heard of David Crosby, Larry Hagman and Steve Jobs getting transplants, but I hadn’t heard of it happening in real life for people like me.”
That was Christy’s thought when her oncologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s James Cancer Hospital suggested a transplant as a treatment option for her liver cancer.
Christy was unemployed and without health insurance when she began experiencing swollen feet and other health issues, so she went to a free clinic in Delaware, Ohio, to seek a doctor’s advice. When Christy’s medical test results came back, the clinic’s doctor said Christy would need the help of a specialist. “In just three days, I got a call from the James Cancer Hospital,” says Christy, thankfully. “I had an oncologist ready to care for me before I took any action to find one.”
When a biopsy confirmed a diagnosis of liver cancer, “I gave myself a death sentence,” Christy says. Her oncologist suggested she consider a liver transplant. “I had no idea that would be an option for me. I honestly thought that only happened to the rich and famous.”
Christy was placed on the liver transplant list in April 2011. While she waited for a donor liver that would be a successful match, Christy developed a bleeding ulcer. She decided to stay with Ohio State for her care. “By sticking to one hospital, I can tell you my care was very well-coordinated. Everyone involved was communicating with each other.”
Just four days after she was discharged from the hospital, Christy got a call in the middle of the night. It was the news she had been patiently hoping for: a donor liver was a match. She was at Ohio State for surgery the very next morning.
After surgery, Christy was doing well; she spent only a day and a half in Ohio State’s surgical intensive care unit, instead of an expected three. Five days later, she was home. Christy continues follow-up visits with her transplant team and says she feels great.
“Between August 2010 and November 2011, I went from being completely hopeless to completely hopeful.”
Now, Christy is planning to take classes from Lifeline of Ohio to become a volunteer. “I asked the social worker at the transplant center for a mentor, someone who had been through this before. I was able to meet a nurse that works in the surgical intensive care unit who had a liver transplant five years earlier. We talked on the phone and went to lunch. I would like to be sure that others have the opportunity for a mentor. It made a big difference to me in what to expect and how important it is to follow the rules for your recovery.”
Christy’s life is an example of overcoming the misconceptions many people have when it comes to transplants. “I’ve learned that you can be saved if you seek it,” she says. Today, Christy says she draws inspiration from a line in a favorite poem: Know how to live life and know how to give life.
Read more patient stories of living donation and transplantation.