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Stories of hope

Janet Ocasio: My gift has given me 20 years of life

Janet Ocasio

I was a young mother of 3 when I was diagnosed with Primary Biliary Cholangitis. At first I was not given the option of a transplant and my future was very dismal but thanks to persistent doctor’s I was eventually enrolled in a transplant program. I wish this were the end of my story but I was in for a very long wait. I began to learn about the waiting list and the scarcity of organs donated for transplant. So I tried to resume my life as best as I could, always worrying about the looming transplant as my condition worsened.

I am a Social Worker and I worked with chronically ill and disabled adults. Going to work everyday and seeing how brave they were despite tremendous challenges gave me a new appreciation for the strength that we possess. I remember one lady always saying, “God never gives us more than we can handle, we just don’t appreciate how much we can handle until we have to.” My children were the most important part of my life, always by my side they grew up with my illness until October 1998 when I received the call. I was very sick by then but very determined.

And so, here I am 20 years later, feeling terrific and working with TSO in NY and UNOS to promote organ donation awareness. I owe a debt to a very special lady who donated her liver to me. I think of her and offer her thanks every single day, she saved my life.

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