Life Stories: The Real Heroes Are the Donor Families
Liver Recipient: Kentucky
A strong will, determination, and the miracle of organ donation have kept illness from standing in the way of a young woman’s dreams. “All through high school I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t want to worry my parents. All I wanted to be was a normal teenager, graduate high school and attend the University of Kentucky. I guess you could say I was a good actress,” Amelia has said. Amelia did graduate from high school, but later said, “I remember thinking at graduation that it was a miracle that I was alive.” Yet she still kept silent about the symptoms which she only learned later were those of liver disease. The week before she was to leave for the University of Kentucky, Amelia could no longer deny to herself or her family that something was wrong. “I started having terrible stomach pain and then I woke up one morning and I couldn’t walk and my skin was yellow.” It wasn’t until a biopsy of her liver was done that she was diagnosed with cirrhosis. “I just remember being so embarrassed,” Amelia said. “How can I have cirrhosis? I never drank! After the initial shock all I was concerned about was whether I could go to college.” Amelia’s doctors had little faith that she would be able to handle college, but nothing would stop this Kentucky girl. Her parents helped Amelia move into her dorm two days after her biopsy, and she successfully completed her first semester. “When I came home for Christmas break the doctors told me my disease had progressed and I would have to go on the transplant waiting list. I thought it would be a 6-month wait. I didn’t have a clue. The hardest part of this whole process isn’t the recovery, it’s the waiting.” [pic]
“The real heroes are the donor families. I look at it this way: there could have been two tragedies, but my donor family turned their tragedy into a blessing. I’m forever grateful.” — Amelia
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