My name is Heather and I was diagnosed in March of 2014, a couple weeks before my 25th birthday, with Stage 4 liver disease. At the University of Illinois in Chicago, I was more specifically told that I had Autoimmune Hepatitis and that I desperately need a new liver.
In June 2014, I went into acute liver failure and was told I had less than a 50% chance of living another 2 months. At this point, I was put on to the Illinois liver waiting list.
Even though I received that horrible prognosis, I never thought I was going to die. I kept my faith and remained positive.
Come October things became worse and the doctors said I should look for a living donor because they didn’t know how much time I had left. My sister made flyers with my blood type and story and the transplant coordinator’s number if anyone was seriously interested in donating to me. We put those flyers in churches, restaurants, everywhere including social media. No one was a match until January 2015.
My cousin was at work and another employee overheard him speaking about me and how I was in really bad shape. This man, a former Marine and complete stranger to me, decided to get tested. I received a phone call from Chris and he told me he was a perfect match!!
Chris and I and our families became close quickly. My transplant was March 16, 2015, a week before my 26th Birthday. I received 55% of Chris’ liver.
It’s been over 5 years now and we are both doing wonderful. In fact, Chris and I got married and are looking to expand our family through adoption! My story is truly a miracle and I am so blessed to have been given a second chance at life.
My advice for other people waiting for a transplant is to try to remain positive even though I know that is extremely hard. Also, family is so so important. My family really helped me through my struggles and were always there for me.
Something that helped me was keeping a journal. In this journal, I wrote inspirational sayings/quotes down as well as fighter and survivors sayings. When I was feeling down, I would read these sayings in my journal and go on Pinterest to find more. It helped me to keep going and to keep fighting. The quotes would encourage me to not let the disease take over who I really was.
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