November 18 is my liverversary. On that date in 2015, I received the gift of life in the form of a gently used liver from a courageous stranger who has become my hero. Just one year prior, I was diagnosed with PBC – primary biliary cholangitis, a slowly progressive autoimmune bile duct disease which results from chronic inflammation of the small intrahepatic bile ducts. It was a disease unknown to me, but on my crash course to learning all I could I realized that I’d had symptoms for most of my 55 years. As I child I bruised so often my mother had me tested for leukemia. I had terrible itching and was advised to skip bubble baths and use all unscented soaps and paper products, and later in life diagnosed with eczema. What I thought was a year-round tan was hyper-pigmentation. And the excessive fatigue was surely from stress, aging and menopause, wasn’t it? Apparently not. It wasn’t until I had difficulty recovering from a respiratory infection and developed jaundice that we began a deep dive into what was wrong. I was fortunate to have a smart team of doctors who ran the right tests and got me in to see the right specialist. While they prescribed a medication to slow progression of the disease, I was already approaching liver failure and my decline was rapid. After 3 months in hospital and with just a couple of days left in my transplantation window, my angel donor and a fantastic team of medical professionals gave me life. I am passionate about paying it forward by encouraging registration for organ, blood and tissue donation, and by educating & supporting others in a similar situation. And while it is a long shot for me to be an organ or tissue donor someday, I have maintained my registered consent and have advised my family of my wishes.
I blog about my transplant experience – the link is here: https://liverandonionsblog.wordpress.com/
Leslie – Liver Recipient