Edward Weiss, Transplant Recipient

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I am blessed...

I was unaware that I had contracted hepatitis C from using heroin and sharing needles in 1969. After 9/11 happened, I tried to donate blood and was told that there was a problem and I need to go see my doctor. Further testing revealed hepatitis C and some minor fibrosis. Eleven years later, in 2012, after my stomach blew up like a balloon, I went to the hospital where 13 liters of fluid were removed. The doctor casually told me that I had “End-stage liver disease,” to which I replied, “Couldn’t you doctors come up with a less dramatic name?” Anyway, I was evaluated at Mayo Clinic and was accepted to their liver transplant program. On an evening in June 2013, I received my first and only call from Mayo Clinic to come in. I was offered a “Hep-C liver” to which I replied a resounding “YES.” The transplant was performed in June 2013 without incident. Four days later I went home and have not had a liver-related problem since that day 8 years ago. Three months after transplant I wrote a letter to my donor family. I didn’t expect to receive an answer, but I did. It was a beautiful, two paragraph letter. One paragraph written by the donor’s mother and one paragraph written by his sister. Having received a hepatitis C liver, I imagined that my donor was a drug user and a low life. Boy, was I wrong. The donor family letter described an individual who had struggled with drugs all his adult life, but was the kindest, most generous and caring individual in their family. So much for assumptions! The truth is, I was blessed by God and his angels that make up the incredible Mayo Clinic transplant team in Phoenix, Arizona. Since 2012, I have been participating in the Mayo Clinic liver support group. In so doing, I hope to never forget the blessings and the gift of life that I was so generously given. Each time I see the sense of relief in the face of a pre-transplant person who has come to group and felt the positive energy of the post-transplant people, I am justified.

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