Three years ago, in the spring of 2016, my cousin Stephen had just earned a bachelor's degree in Biology and Health Sciences and was starting a Master's Degree in Public Health focusing on Epidemiology. One day the side of his face became numb. Doctors probed for causes including stroke, heart attack, and then MS, but symptoms worsened and Stephen's health plummeted. He was having symptoms of liver disease but this was not discovered until Spring of 2017. He had to abandon his career and education and instead coped with unimaginable pain and despair and the possibility of dying.
Finally doctors at UMass Memorial/Worcester were able to provide hope. Stephen was put on the liver transplant list in April 2018 and began a complicated maintenance regimen. His health rebounded moderately, but pain and fatigue do not go away with end stage liver disease, so working and employment remain out of the question right now.
Fortunately Stephen has a strong chance of recovering and returning to a normal life. He is scheduled for transplant surgery on April 30 in Worcester.
The financial toll of this:
lost wages: Stephen was working in healthcare, expecting to be making a PA's salary this year. Difficult to calculate, but no work since Spring 2016.
college loans unpaid: $60,000.
Post-transplant caregiver(s) after discharge from the hospital: unknown amount of time, probably a minimum of 1 month round-the-clock care. Part will be from Stephen's parents, and part will be provided by his fiance, Lisa, who will be giving up at least two weeks of pay as a full time registered nurse.
Stephen's recovery from surgery will be grueling and for many transplant recipients it can take 6 months or a year to feel normal...but the chances are excellent that Stephen will return to full health.