Select Page

Stories of hope

Roberta: Truly blessed beyond measure

Roberta Shikles

My story of hope started in 1992 while four months pregnant and 29 years old. After many tests and procedures, some never done on a pregnant woman, all pregnancy complications were ruled out as being the cause of my poor liver functions and unbearable itching and bruising. My doctors decided to place a stent where they discovered strictured bile ducts, hoping to get me through the pregnancy.

After we were blessed with a third healthy baby girl, my labs only continued to get worse, so the portion of bile duct that was causing my liver to fail was surgically removed, ducts re-routed, and gallbladder removed. After being told it was only a temporary solution, I was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and told I would need a transplant soon. Very surprising to my doctors, and although I was extremely fatigued and often ill, the surgery allowed me almost ten years before my liver became ill enough for me to be listed for transplant.

Physically waiting was not easy due to increasing fatigue, encephalopathy, seizures, bleeding varices, pulmonary embolisms and all the other things liver cirrhosis can cause, but without increasing my MELD score enough to get the call we were waiting on. However, God continued to keep me and my family hopeful and at peace for another 10 years after being listed for transplant. Although my family and I missed many special life events due to my being hospitalized or just extremely exhausted, I felt very blessed to help my wonderful husband raise three beautiful daughters and be a part of four grandbabies’ lives.

Finally, in January 2013, after 20 years of knowing a transplant was inevitable if it were a part of God’s plan, I received my gift of life. After recovery, I could not remember ever feeling so good. In fact, when playing with my oldest grandson, he said “Grandma, I didn’t know you could run.” I couldn’t even remember the last time I had been able to.

However, eighteen months later, I began rejecting my new liver, and after fighting it seven weeks in the hospital and 6 months at home with a drainage tube that was replaced monthly, I was again listed for transplant. During this second wait, I was thankful to feel well enough to enjoy my family, including three more grandbabies. But the day my eighth grandbaby was born, I began a quick decline and was hospitalized with encephalopathy again.

Less than 2 months later, in December 2019, I received my second liver transplant, all because another amazing family was willing to unselfishly love and think of others while they were grieving.

I pray every day not only for my two angel donor families but for all families who have a loved one waiting with hope for a transplant and those making the decision to share life with others even though they are grieving the loss of someone they love.

I believe God has a plan for each one of us and, although my plan might have been different, I’ve always trusted Him for the purpose He has for me. I am forever thankful for the people He put in my life to help me through, including my wonderful husband who would do anything for me, my children who grew up so understanding, my mother, sisters, and many other praying friends, as well as exceptional doctors and nurses both local and at my transplant center. God’s grace and those two unselfish families have allowed me to continue to be an incredibly happy wife, mother, and recently a grandma to grandbabies nine and ten! Who could ask for anything better?

Most importantly, I am thankful for not one but two families who gave me the opportunity to continue life, share God’s love with my family, and search for ways to be a blessing to others.

Hand-drawn heart
Liver, Stories, UNOS Ambassador

UNOS Ambassadors

Learn more about becoming a UNOS Ambassador

Share your story

Share how you’re #LivingItForward. How has organ donation and transplant touched your life?

Stories of hope exist because of the selfless gift of organ donors. Read donor tributes. #LivingItForward

UNOS proudly recognizes sponsors whose generosity helps make our lifesaving mission possible.
Learn about sponsorships and our editorial standards.

Share This