Christopher T Bucholz, Transplant Recipient
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I am so very grateful for the gift of life...
After a two-year journey that began in 2017 when I was diagnosed with NASH cirrhosis, I received the gift of life (liver) from an anonymous donor on the early morning hours in March 2020. I was very fortunate to receive a new liver so quickly, as I was only on the national transplant waiting list for about 11 days.
Those two years of all my pre-transplant testing was a long and difficult journey, but it was well worth it in my opinion. However, my surgery was not without major complications. During my liver transplant my heart unexpectedly flatlined, so they had to give me chest compressions during surgery to bring my heartbeat back. It really surprised me when I heard that my heart stopped three times during surgery because I passed all the pre-transplant cardiology tests and my heart was fine. I guess things like this can always happen and you have to be prepared for it. Once I woke up from surgery in the ICU I was in excruciating chest pain from the cracked ribs from the chest compressions they gave me during surgery to get my heart going. I was also feeling a lot of pain radiating from my new incision so my recovery was difficult and very painful the first three to four months after my transplant.
It’s now been over a year since my liver transplant and I feel great. My appetite is very good and I haven’t experienced any liver rejection issues since being discharged from the hospital over a year ago. My new liver is producing wonderful blood test results. I’m on a very low dose of daily immunosuppressant medications. When I first got out of surgery, I was taking close to 18 different pills a day. Now a year later I’m only taking about five different pills (twice a day).
I first noticed that my liver was not functioning properly back in 2017. My first symptom was a very distended and tight feeling stomach. It felt like it was full of fluid. My stomach was so big and stuck out. It was not a pleasant sight or feeling! It got so bad at times it was very difficult for me to bend over just to tie my shoes. It was a horrible feeling. The other symptoms were swollen legs, swollen feet, tiredness, bloated face, swollen eyelids, skin color was yellowish, chronic dry cough (because of fluid in my lungs), forgetfulness, my liver enzymes were very high and my blood platelets were very low. I just felt miserable inside and my body was so full of fluid because my liver was not working properly. When I was first admitted to the hospital back in 2017, the first thing they did was to give me a paracentesis and thoracentesis to drain all the excessive fluid in my body. I couldn’t believe how much fluid came out of my body. It was unreal. I felt so much better and like a new person after receiving those medical procedures.
The transplant process is a long and amazing journey that tests the limits of the human strength and courage. I will never forget all I went through before receiving my new liver. It requires a lot of commitment and faith as well as emotional, mental, psychological and physical endurance. I found it to be a very long and difficult process, but it was well worth it at the end. If a person can handle transplantation, you can conquer anything you set your mind to. It is one of life’s greatest challenges and among the reward is the gift of life itself. It’s definitely not for the weak-minded or faint-hearted. I’ve been pricked, prodded, probed, needled, tested, etc. Before I had my transplant I was afraid to go to the doctor and always put it off. Since going through this whole ordeal, I’m no longer afraid of doctors or going to the hospital and I now look at my doctors and nurses as my very best friends.
Having a liver transplant was well worth it as I feel so much better now. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think of my wonderful donor and their family for their generous lifesaving gift. I always feel their presence around me every day. It’s a very strange feeling to say the least. I am so very grateful for their gift of life and they will always have a special place in my heart. May they forever Rest In Peace.
Lastly, God is good and has blessed me with so many wonderful miracles these past several years!! It truly amazes me.
I’m happy to report that after this past year I feel really good and I have an excellent appetite. I have no complaints and regrets. My care while a patient at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix was extremely good. I’m very happy with the transplant team of doctors, surgeons, nurses, etc. I received great, compassionate medical care and the follow up care I received after my transplant was excellent as well.