Our Stories

My Final Gift

It is now time for me to move on
Into the dusk, but also the dawn.

I will remain as the morning comes
As I've left behind a gift for someone.

So another may walk,
may talk, may see

Where their life was locked,
I offered a key.

I am a donor to someone in need,
My final gift, my final deed.

Sarah Todd, Ireland
Daughter of a Heart Recipient

Lynn Davis, Liver Recipient

Lynn Davis

In the spring of 2014, I suddenly began feeling ill, had a decrease of energy, and wanted to sleep all the time. Within 6 weeks, the situation was far worse. I could barely drive, my cognitive abilities were affected, and I no longer had the energy to do the things I loved doing or even get out of bed. My doctor ran lab tests and found that my liver enzymes were extremely elevated.

Two weeks later, I was hospitalized. A CT scan and Biopsy showed I was in acute (sudden & severe onset) liver failure. I was told that I only had 5% liver function and I that I needed to find a liver clinic. Two days later, I was at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix being evaluated for a liver transplant. Within a few days, I was diagnosed with Fulminant Hepatic Toxicity and admitted to Mayo Hospital. I was in disbelief and was sure there had been a horrible mistake. After all, I was young (52) healthy and active.

The liver is an amazing organ that has the ability to repair itself. The doctors at Mayo began treatment in the attempt to repair my failing liver. Unfortunately, my liver was too damaged and treatment was unsuccessful. The only alternative remaining was a new liver and without one, I would die in a very short time. I was placed on the “wait list,” joining over 120,000 other people in the U.S. who were also waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. Approximately 15,000 were in need of a liver.

Over the next few days, my condition deteriorated. They moved me in to ICU and changed my status on the organ transplant wait list to “status 1A.” This status is reserved for patients with acute liver failure and a life expectancy of hours to a few days without a transplant. The survival rate for individuals with acute liver failure is less than 20% due to the sudden and rapid deterioration of the liver. The following morning on June 24, 2014 I received the news that a matching liver had become available and that evening I underwent a successful liver transplant.

On the second year anniversary of my liver transplant, I had the amazing experience of meeting my donor’s mother. My donor was a 20 year old incredible young man that was in college to become a doctor. His aspiration was to help others and save lives and he did, just that! I think of my donor every day and am forever grateful for his decision to become a registered organ donor. If you are not already a registered organ donor, please consider becoming one. If you are a registered donor, thank you!

Evelyn Rivera, Liver Recipient

Evelyn Rivera
I am Evelyn Rivera, 61 years old. On December 23, 2009 I was diagnosed with liver cancer and cirrhosis brought on by Hep C. January 2010 found me at UCHospital, Denver undergoing an evaluation for a liver transplant. Once I was placed on the list I began chemo treatments for the cancer and interferon treatment for the Hep C. July 26, 2011 I received my first transplant. That liver developed bile duct issues and my health declined. After much misery and a second interferon treatment I received my second transplant on February 25, 2015. I am alive again! Forever grateful to those who chose to be organ donors, I am now dedicated to increasing the number of donors so that others may have a shorter wait for a new life.

Robert Golding, Liver Recipient

Robert Golding is the recipient of a liver and kidney transplant. He was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2000. He received therapy to cure the virus in 2002, but his liver had gone into cirrhosis as a result of the many years that he had Hepatitis C. Robert contracted Hepatitis C from a blood transfusion in 1983 before there was a test to check for the virus. It is not possible to contract Hepatitis C from the blood supply now because of careful screening of blood and blood products. The complications from cirrhosis started in 2011 and things got worst until he was unable to work in 2013. He was admitted to Banner Hospital Phoenix in February 2014 for evaluation for a liver transplant. While he was there his kidneys failed. Banner could not perform the transplant due to portal vein thrombosis. Robert was then transferred to Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.They performed the transplant surgery for the liver and kidney at the same time. Robert received his transplant on May 23, 2014. He is grateful for the donor and her family for the gift of life. His passion is bringing awareness to the public the need to become an organ donor!

Cathy Walters, Heart Transplant Recipient

Cathy Walters

I was incredibly blessed in June, 2013 when I received the Gift of Life and given a new heart! My surgery took place at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. I had been diagnosed with a rare and progressive heart condition which would have ultimately rendered my heart useless. Not only did I receive a perfectly matched heart from a most generous donor and her family, I didn't even have to wait very long to receive it (one week on the National Waiting List!)

Thanks to this miracle, I literally have a new life! Instead of being depressed and thinking I had no future, I now look forward and am grateful for every new day. I have returned to many former activities, being independent, traveling and helping others. One of my passions is now increasing the awareness of the need of more donors and promoting organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation. I am so looking forward to my first Transplant Games of America experience in Cleveland this June! I hope to gain more knowledge that will help me in my quest to "pay back" and further the cause!

The Games will also give me the chance to celebrate with other transplant recipients and their families, as well as to pay tribute to all the donors and their families. It is only through their generosity that life-saving and life-restoring transplants can take place. They are the true heroes!