In March of 2020 I had a kidney stone. I went through a process where I had to get a colonoscopy and then had blood work done. The doctors at that time thought I had a fatty liver. This is when the story started.
I started having signs in my body that were new to me like, lack of sleep, I was itching all over, my legs were feeling weak, and my walking was getting slower. When I would sit down and get back up, it would take me a few minutes to get going and focus on where I was headed. Certain parts of my body started aching that have never ached before. I felt so poor I couldn’t enjoy myself, my family started to notice a difference and change in my behavior and personality. I am an outgoing person and I could no longer run a conversation. At this point, this is when my family and I realized more had to be going on. I went to the liver institution and I met one of the best liver doctors on the east coast.
I was then diagnosed with non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. The liver institution started taking control of my liver. This could have been catastrophic if I had not taken action and met the doctor and his team. From there, I spent a lot of time in the hospital on and off, every month for a year. Sometimes four and five days at a time. I took a lot of diuretic medication for over a year. It was very uncomfortable and I had to go once a week to drain the fluid off my body. I had to go to UVA to undergo testing to determine if I could withstand an 8 1/2 hour surgery for a liver transplant. After months of going through all of this, finally on September 16, 2021 I qualified to be on the transplant list.
On October 7, 2021 Cathy, my wife, and I were at my regular paracentesis appointment. As the nurses called me back and I got up, Cathy’s phone rang. They stated right then, “…don’t drain the fluid, we have a perfect match for a liver for Donnie. Be here in three hours…” We got there and they started putting tubes in me and I don’t remember anything after. I woke up three days later, with a new liver and didn’t know whether I was coming or going. I stayed there 11 days in the ICU, being monitored 24/7. On the twelfth day I was discharged. The doctors thought I was doing well enough to come directly home instead of going to a rehabilitation center. I had home health come to my house for three weeks to assist me in learning to walk again and get my muscles back in shape. After those three weeks ended, I was doing very well.
Today, April 2022, I am doing much better. The doctors are very impressed with my healing and perseverance. Since the transplant my bloodwork is excellent and everything feels great. Though I have some ways to go and need to still be careful, I can start playing golf again if I take it slow. I am able to go watch my grandkids play sports again which is great. From where I felt months ago to how I feel today is a 100% turn around. I am looking forward to seeing all my friends again and I want to thank my family for being by my side everyday and allowing me to stay strong and get through this. I also want to thank everybody especially the transplant team who treated me like a king. It’s also important to note I am very blessed I didn’t get COVID throughout these two years or suffer. Finally, I want to thank everyone who has prayed for me, all my friends and all my family that were with me all the way. There is a God in this world. I feel like a new man now.
Learn more about transplant
How does someone get listed for a transplant?