Keith’s Story

Keith is a 47-year man who is married his high school sweetheart Teresa. Together they made a very large and beautiful family and have many charming young grandchildren. Everything was running very slowly for the Hansen family, then Keith’s family was told some devastating news. Thirty years ago, this fall, Keith was diagnosed with lung cancer, Hepatitis C to be specific, due to many years of smoking and drinking. Hepatitis C is an infectious disease that takes a life threatening affect on the liver. Hepatitis C is a chronic disease that can potentially lead to scarring of the liver and in some cases liver failure or liver cancer and can eventually lead to death. Keith’s condition became worse and worse as the days went on. Unfortunately Keith’s family was not financially stable and could not afford the appropriate treatment to catch the cancer early. Keith was told it was a 50/50 chance he would live without any sort of treatment. Keith and his family had to make the difficult decision and chose to continue living his life without treatment. About 1 year after his heartbreaking diagnosis, Keith started feeling extremely light headed and would periodically get very strong abdominal pain. Keith had no choice but to return to the hospital and see his doctor for an update on his condition. Keith’s physician notified him that his liver was approaching complete failure. The physician immediately put Keith on a liver transplant waiting list. After being on the transplant waiting list for 1 year Keith was in and out of the hospital getting his system flushed out, being sent home, and being forced back into the hospital the next day due to his worsening condition. On day when Keith was in the hospital awaiting a system flush his physician revealed some horrible news. A Meld score is a score that your doctor will give you depending how severe your condition is. This score is from 1-30, 1 being very healthy and 30 being dead. At this point Keith had a score of 18. A few days after receiving his Meld Score Keith’s condition was getting

more severe by the hour and Keith fell into a coma. After a few days of being stuck in the coma, Keith’s Meld score was increased 28 and was immediately moved to the top of the organ recipient list. Once Keith pulled out of the coma he was sent home to his family to spend the last of his days. A few days later Keith was feeling well enough and agreed to attend church with his wife. One hour into the sermon Keith started feeling extremely light headed and nauseous and decided to leave church early to go home and rest. As Keith unlocked his front door he was startled by the sound of the phone ringing. He rushed to the phone as quickly as he could manage and picked it up. Keith let out a sigh when he was told that the University of Utah hospital had a healthy liver waiting for him. Keith says there were 3 miracles that happened for him to receive that phone call; the first was that he was able to be moved to the top of the organ recipient list when he went into his coma, the second was the liver that Keith received was originally for another patient but the doctors misdiagnosed him and ended up not needing the liver, the last was that if Keith hadn’t decided to leave church early he would have never received that call and would have died a couple months later. It has been 6 years since his liver transplant and he has never felt healthier. In December Keith will be 1 year sober. Keith had an amazing story to tell and I am extremely lucky to have been on the receiving end of that story.

Mary’s Story
Mary’s symptoms appeared in the fall of 2001. A frequent dry cough, unexplained weight loss, and lack of endurance. By the time the Winter Olympics arrived in February 2002, Mary had trouble walking the single block from her work to her volunteer station. Mary suffered cough spasms so violent that her rib muscles became extremely bruised and would vomit regularly. Mary’s was sent her to see a pulmonologist who dismissed the possibility of lung disease and referred her to an ENT( An ear, nose, and throat doctor) The ENT said that Laryngeal spasms were closing off Mary’s airway. This misdiagnosis persisted for 3 years. The wracking cough persisted and the inability to tolerate exertion became much worse. Mary continued to lose weight. In 2004 a fellow employee told Mary that she was turning blue. That night, Mary’s husband rushed her to the ER. Once at the hospital Mary’s oxygen saturation was below 70%. Mary was admitted immediately and diagnosed with severe pulmonary fibrosis or PF (scar tissue in the lungs) by the staff pulmonologist. Mary began seeing Dr. Mary Beth Scholand at the University Hospital. Dr. Scholand was new to the U and was a specialist in treating PF. Mary began using supplemental oxygen. For the first time in 3 years, things began to improve--the cough went away and she stopped losing weight (after losing 60 pounds). In 2005 Mary began going downhill and had developed secondary pulmonary hypertension which greatly complicated her disease. In 2008, Dr. Scholand referred Mary to be evaluated for transplant. The first round of tests in 2009 identified a lesion on one of her coronary arteries. Placement of two stents had improved her condition enough to postpone lung transplant. A year later, Mary’s condition became so severe that she was tested for lung transplant again and listed for transplant on March 12, 2010. Mary was using over 10 liters of oxygen per minute at rest and 20 liters while exercising in pulmonary rehabilitation. Everyone was aware that time was short. On July 16, 2010, Mary received a double lung transplant at age 62. There were a few complications post-surgery. When under anesthesia the ventilator that was used was too large

for her throat and damaged my vocal chords. Mary also developed acute myopathy illness. All of Mary’s muscles below her waist ceased to function completely. Mary could not walk, speak, eat, or drink. Mary was moved to an acute inpatient rehabilitation where she did physical, occupational, and vocal therapy for 5 hours a day, 6 days a week. Mary states, “This was the hardest thing I have ever done, even after two natural child births.” Mary continued on with her strenuous therapy. About 2 months after transplant, I returned to pulmonary rehabilitation and gradually regained strength and stability. She moved from wheelchair to walker, and then a cane. Finally, after about 4 months, Mary was able to throw away her cane and walk independently. On November 11, 2010' Mary’s voice spontaneously returned and was able speak again! May is now almost 3 1/2 years post-transplant and 66 years old. Mary states, “My road is still bumpy, but I am alive, free from supplemental oxygen, and grateful for every day with my wonderful husband, kids, and Grandkids. That heart wrenching experience was small price to pay for the gift I have been given. It was not easy, but it was worth it.”

Ali’s Story
Ali was a devoted mother of two young boys named Gabe, age 4, and Brayden, 19 months. In July of 2011, Ali was going to school and working, as well as raising 2 boys. Ali was working day and night on a paper for school and her husband took the kids to a friend’s to play to get out of her hair. The house the boys were visiting was a family friend’s house that the Branley family visited very often, sometimes multiple times a week and somewhere her two boys, Gabe and Brayden felt very at home. In the backyard was a small fishpond in the middle of the yard that was full of large his that have been in that pond for years. Brayden and Gabe were outside playing on the slide while Ali’s husband, D.J. ran up into the house for a drink when D.J. heard horrible sound. Gabe, the 4-year-old son, ran into the house screaming for his father. Gabe ran in and told his father that Brayden, the 19 month old son had fallen into the pond. D.J. was terrified and bolted down the stairs to the pond to find his youngest son in the pond. Without hesitation D.J. pulled Brayden out but his son was already unconscious. D.J. performed CPR right beside the pond to his son’s limp body. D.J. carried Brayden in the house and continued CPR in the kitchen while 911 was called. First responders arrived in less than 10 minutes and CPR was performed the whole time in the ambulance. By the time they arrived at the hospital, it was already too late. Just a few hours later, Brayden’s parents received a call from IDS asking a very difficult question, “Do you want your son to be an organ donor?” Ali said, “To me it was a no brainer because we couldn't save him but he could save others.” Two of Brayden’s heart valves were donated, both were successful transplants. Ali is not in contact with the donor recipients because local privacy laws will not allow her to know any information about the recipients. Ali says, “I would love to see the happy children that lived because of my little boy.” Ali said that she would have said yes for her son to be a donor because it would be worth the try. People continuously tell Ali how generous she is

because she said yes, and she always says she isn’t. Ali says, “ It wasn't like they were going to give him back to me if I said no.” Ali and D.J. were always very honest and open with him and Gabe, Brayden’s older brother. Ali said, “A few months after Brayden died Gabe woke me up in the middle of the night and out of nowhere said ‘Momma, when brother died we gave away his heart right?’ I told him he was right, that we donated parts of Brayden’s body to save two other sick kids. He thought about it for a second and said, ‘So because brother died, he saved two other little kids lives?’ I said that he was right; his brother had saved two little kids lives. The thought about it for another few seconds and said, "Ok. So when brother died, he died a super hero. Good for brother!’ And he turned around and went back to bed.”