One year ago this Saturday my cousin and I went into separate operating rooms and came out, several hours later, with two halves of the same liver. When I think about it, it still seems a little “weird science” to me. Did that really happen? Modern medicine can certainly be miraculous.
1 Year Liverversary Updates
So, where are we now? How is my cousin doing? How am I? This last year I’ve had about 10 potential donors find my posts and contact me about my experience. There isn’t a lot of detailed, personal stories out there about the 1 year post-transplant mark. Sharing will hopefully continue to help others with their decision to donate.
My Cousin Saved A Life
First, I’ll update you on my cousin. With his permission, I’m taking a moment to brag on him. Last spring, UCSF contacted him and basically said,
“So hey…we already know all about your body and we know you’re a bone marrow match for an 11 year old cancer patient. Want to donate?”
And my cousin was like, “Hell yeah!”
[Not an exact transcript of that conversation, btw.]
That young lady is now doing great and back at school this fall living her life again. I am so proud of my cousin and so happy for that 11 year old!
It is amazing to me how things in life come full circle sometimes. In the beginning of this journey, I shared how fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society via Team In Training led to joining Be The Match, the Bone Marrow Registry. [Read about that here.] That was the first context in which I thought about being a donor of any kind and I knew then I’d be honored and eager to do that if I could. I ended up being a different kind of donor but, in the end, that did enable a bone marrow match-made-in-heaven! My cousin fulfilled a dream of mine for me.
He Works Out More Than I Do
So yes, he’s a gym rat. Before he got sick he was super fit, doing obstacle course races and all kinds of nonsense like that. With health on his side, he is checking into the gym (I see it on Facebook) and guilting his friends into joining him.
In fact, he’s doing more workouts per week than I am. GAH! Once I’m done growing a child and back in shape myself, we have plans to do some obstacle course races together. Team Liver Twins!
FUN FACT: My cousin shares my DNA now!
You’d think we would anyway, but I am actually adopted and we are not blood relatives. However, some of my DNA, via my liver, has now “chimera-ed” it’s way into his genetic make up. [Insert evil laughter here.]
1 Year Check-Up Results
My cousin’s results show that his new liver is operating perfectly. No levels are too high or too low. They kept reducing his anti-rejection meds after the surgery and he is definitely a feel-good success story for the UCSF transplant center.
My lab results are also good. Normal. These are the things my 1 year blood panels tested for. In case you really want to know….
Pregnancy Post Transplant
Did you catch that? I’m 19 weeks pregnant! In 2 weeks we will find out if we’re having a boy or a girl. We were about 8 months post-transplant when we got pregnant. The guideline given was that we wait at least 6 months before getting pregnant to give my body time.
My belly is in the growth phase and I’m curious how my scar will stretch? I’m having some typical pregnancy round ligament pain and I admit it kinda freaked me out at first.
FAQs From Potential Donors
It helped me a lot to read/hear other donor’s experiences when I was going through the donor selection process. It was hard to find a lot of comprehensive stories, though. That’s why I have shared the process on my blog and love that it continues to help others who want to donate.
I’ve consolidated the Frequently Asked Questions I’ve gotten from potential donors and put them in a post here.