I was born with a rare liver disease called biliary atresia. I wasn't born with a common bile duct (in addition to several other birth defects). I was admitted to the hospital at 4 weeks old. I had surgery when I was 5 weeks old to reconstruct the main duct in my liver. Although this surgery helped me for the most part, I still faced countless hospitalizations with liver infections and being what I called ‘toxic’.
To fast forward: In June of 2011, I was hospitalized with cholangitis - a liver infection. I was evaluated for a liver transplant, but at the time that wasn't a part of God's plan for me. After, I never bounced back to how I was before. Even though I was very sick and had brain damage as a result of elevated liver enzymes for such a long period of time, I still wasn’t ready for a transplant. I was always tired, in pain, and nauseous. I felt I was suffering, but I kept reminding myself to keep smiling! I saw more doctors, took numerous tests & had several surgeries. I could not go to school full-time anymore. Finally, I was listed for a liver transplant. While we waited, I was able to graduate from high school – a big accomplishment for me and my family! After falling ill again and being evaluated again, we got a call – a possible liver. On May 31, 2014, I received my liver transplant.
Along my journey, I was also able to meet my donor’s family. My donor, Tyler, was 17 years old and was hit head-on by an impaired driver on his graduation night. Together, we have come to learn that my donor wasn't dying for me, but he had fulfilled his purpose God had set for him.
This picture is of me – Savannah - holding my donor’s (Tyler’s) picture. PS – Tyler had a heart on his license. This amazing individual wanted to help save lives like mine!