My son Josh's girlfriend, Kelly, is very sick and in desperate need of a liver transplant! My son works very hard to support them both as she has not been able to work in the past year; and has spent most of the year in the hospital. She is currently in critical condition in the liver unit at Yale New Haven Hospital. The small apartment Josh rents for them is not in the best neighborhood but it's all they can afford! Last year they had to fight the landlord over mold issues and get the health department involved. Kelly's condition requires her to take a lot of medication and live in as healthy of an environment as possible. Last week there was a house party next to Josh's apartment and a 19 year old boy was stabbed to death. Prior to Kelly's fast decline in health last year they had discussed moving once she found a full time job, they wanted to be in a better neighborhood but his income alone cannot afford them that opportunity.
I am hoping to raise funds to help pay her mounting medical co-pays, and to help cover the cost of moving them into a better neighborhood. Kelly fears going home to an apartment where one of her most recent memories is having the police physically restrain her, and a murder next door!
Please read the following letter from Josh, it's long but please read to the end so you can fully understand the dilemma these two amazing young people are faced with!
As some of you know, this is my girlfriend Kelly. Kelly and I have been best friends since the night we met. I remember feeling like I had known her my entire life as soon as we started talking. Eventually, things naturally progressed and we've been together ever since.
This is a person who worked two jobs to put herself through school and had it paid off before she graduated. She's a fantastic artist and musician, an exquisite chef, and a talented licensed cosmetologist.
But she has a problem. Kelly was born with type two autoimmune hepatitis. And before you ask, no. This is nothing like hepatitis A, B, or C. Hepatitis means 'liver inflammation', there are a variety of flavors to choose from. To quote Wikipedia,
'Autoimmune Hepatitis is a disease of the liver that occurs when the body's immune system attacks cells of the liver. Anomalous presentation of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II on the surface of hepatocytes, possibly due to genetic predisposition or acute liver infection, causes a cell-mediated immune response against the body's own liver, resulting in autoimmune hepatitis. This abnormal immune response results in inflammation of the liver, which can lead to further symptoms and complications such as fatigue and cirrhosis.'
Had Kelly's condition been caught earlier in life, she may have gotten off easy (easier?), and might today be living a relatively normal life of a 23 year old girl while remaining on a few immunosuppressants to keep her condition under control. Unfortunately, it wasn't. She was diagnosed near the end of 2008 directly after high school. While she has been on a strict diet and a regular routine of pink, green, and blue pills (upwards of 10+ a day), this last year we've seen a rapid decline in her health.
Beginning in March 2013, Kelly was walking on a sidewalk when her knee cap dislocated. It scrapped off all of the cartilage, and when she hit the ground she shattered her knee into about 7 pieces. She had aced her state board exam for Cosmetology 3 months prior to this and had been waiting for the license to come in the mail before anywhere would hire her. It finally came in two days later, however she was told that because of her knee injury, she should never expect to work standing up again.
After jumping through numerous hoops trying to get a doctor to look at her knee, we were told that it could take up to a couple months before she would be able to get an appointment. Two weeks to the day of the knee break, Kelly woke up feeling nauseous and immediately started throwing up toilet bowls full of dark red coagulated blood. Kelly had varicose veins in her throat that ruptured, so blood was pooling in her stomach. If I had not been there to rush her to the emergency room, she would have died, as she would not have taken herself. She had to go through numerous surgeries throughout the course of last year in order to repair the veins in her throat. This turned out to be somewhat of a good thing, as since she was in the hospital, they couldn't legally let her leave until the fixed her leg as well.
Another symptom of AIH is that her body will not dispel fluid as it should. Instead of doing its job, her liver instead pumps toxic bile and ammonia back into her abdomen. If enough ammonia begins to build up, it makes its way up into her brain. This leaves her very confused and unable to think clearly. It also shoves all of her organs out of place and leaves her abdomen very distended. In order to combat this, she must get an operation every month or so called a paracentesis. This is where they stick a needle into her abdomen and drain this fluid out. On average, they take about 8 liters out each time. This last time they took out 10. Fun fact - That's 10 human stomachs worth of fluid, or about 22lbs. Also, people. If you're not 100% certain that someone is pregnant, then don't ask them when they're due. Literally, every single time we left the house to go somewhere, someone would ask without fail. Not everyone want's to have a baby in their mid 20s.
** **quick aside - Are you still with me? I know this is a lot, and I fscking hate talking about it, because I know that there isn't much anyone can say, and it just makes people feel awkward and uncomfortable, and maybe that's why people have been avoiding me. I don't know. ** **
So, jump to the week before thanksgiving. Kelly ended up diving into a manic state. The night that I called the ambulance for her when she snapped was one of the most terrifying and surreal experiences. She was babbling about absolutely nothing and not making any sense. Cops getting ready to taser me in my bedroom, trying to get me to tell them that she was on PCP, or Mushrooms, or Acid, while also standing there cracking jokes at her expense.
Since then, Kelly has not recovered. For the past two months, she has been in a psyche ward 3 different times with intense paranoia, auditory hallucinations, confusion, severe mood swings, delusions, and all the other sorts of fun symptoms. Doctors don't know how long she will be like this. They don't even know if she will ever fully recover.
What she needs is a new liver. Her liver has worse cirrhosis than an alcoholic who has been drinking every day for the last 20 years, and she has never had a drink in her life. The way the liver transplant list works is that the closer to death you are, the higher up on the list. So anyone who drinks their livers to death will get a new one right away, but a poor young person on state insurance is nothing more than a cash cow to the medical system of this country. The longer she stays sick, the more medication they can pump through her, the more money they make.
"But what can I do to help?" you ask. Well, there is another way of getting a new liver. It's called receiving a liver from a live donor. Once a match is found, the donor's liver is cut in half and given to the receiver. Within 6-8 weeks, the donors liver will grow back to full size, or up to 103% larger than it was. Of course, this is an absolutely huge commitment. But at this point, we're getting desperate. If you or anyone you know would have any interest in finding out if how to see if you're a potential match, please get a hold of me for more information.
If you made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read this. It's been a really shitty past year, and I really miss my soul mate/best friend. I love you so much Kelly.
Edit - As requested - Her blood type is O+. This is a description of the Live Donor process.http://www.transplantliving.org/living-donation/being-a-living-donor/tests/
The transplant clinic's number is 203-737-1110