Matthew Owen, Transplant Recipient
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Be a donor, it saves lives and it saved mine...
I first started having health issues upon my return for military deployment back in the early 1990s. As time progressed, my health continued to decline, and in 1999 I was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy. I was grateful, however, to be able to continue my military service. In 2007, I retired from active duty with 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. My health continued to decline, and I was diagnosed with diabetes, glaucoma and stage 3 kidney failure. By 2014, I had also gained a lot of weight maxing out at 315 pounds. I decided to have a Roux-En-Y gastric bypass. During this surgery was the first time I was informed I had liver issues. A biopsy was completed and I was told I already had stage 4 liver failure resulting from non-alcohol cirrhosis (NASH). Having completed the bypass, I started a strict diet and lost 145 pounds. Even with the weight loss and following the doctors’ orders my liver and kidneys were failing, and by 2016 this resulted in being placed on the transplant list. In May of 2017, my family and I temporally relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana, and was dual-listed in both Arizona and Indiana. After four months of hopefully waiting we had to return to Arizona. I switched to the transplant center at Mayo Clinic-Phoenix and was listed in August 2017. I was experiencing increased hepatic encephalopathy (HP). Over the next five months I was notified multiple times as a backup recipient for a liver, but was not selected as the primary recipient.
In December 2017, I was called as a primary and completed a successful transplant. My surgery went exceptionally well and after just five days in the hospital I was home starting a new life. The HP was gone and I began feeling great. As I approach four months post-surgery I am so thankful for my donor who selflessly made the choice at some time in her life to be a donor. My family and friends who were with me all this time, and to my savor Jesus Christ who ultimately has a plan for me. Be a donor, it saves lives and it saved mine!