Letter: Organ donations desperately needed

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To the editor,

About seven years ago I was diagnosed with an hereditary form of liver disease. For a long while the disease was not acute, and so I spent about five of those years going to the doctor twice a year and not worrying about it.

In March of 2014 things began to change. I was suddenly in more danger and the team of doctors at Yale/New Haven Hospital began urging me to begin transplant testing so that I could be registered on The Unos Transplant List.

Then in September of 2014 I ended up in the hospital and two more stays followed in November of 2014 and February of 2015. I had developed a condition called encephalopathy and I was losing consciousness. In November of 2014, I was in Yale ICU in a coma for two days.
I began the transplant testing in December of 2014 and was listed on the Unos National Transplant list in March of 2015.

Yale is a fine hospital and their transplant program is thorough and the transplant teams are kind, proactive and positive in their attitude.

One of the many things that most people don’t realize is that it is not necessary for a donor to die for a liver transplant to take place. Living donors can give a small portion of their liver. The liver is one organ that will “grow back” and the length of time that a donor spends in the hospital is relatively brief.

Yale never charges donors for the pre-operative testing or the surgery itself. All the donor must be is under age 55 and of a matching blood type.

My husband tested to be a living donor and he was a match. However, the configuration of an individual’s liver is also considered and Yale could not use him as the area to be transplanted must be at least 40 percent of the entire liver volume. My husband’s liver is configured at 20 percent and so the surgeon felt that the risk of surgery was too great. Not only for my husband, but for me as well.

I was actually glad that he could not donate as I didn’t want both of us to be in the hospital at the same time. I know that here in Connecticut this does happen as a recent transplant between husband and wife was done for a couple from Bristol. I have seen them in the transplant department and they are both well.

As most people have heard over and over again, organ donation is desperately needed in all parts of the country, but being able to give as a living donor is a gift that both is given and received and the donor has the satisfaction of seeing the results of that gift.

I urge anyone who is interested to call the Yale Transplant Team. I ask this not only for myself and not only for those who need a liver transplant, but for all of those on the Unos list who need your help.

Anyone could find themselves in my position at any time. Don’t think of organ donation as a sacrifice but as a life affirming gift.

Patricia Smith Zappone

Prospect