I want to share with you the story of Valerie Christopher's wait for a liver transplant. A wait that lasted for close to 20 years.
Imagine looking into the eyes of someone you love. The eyes of someone with whom you have a deep emotional connection. A spouse or parent, a sister or brother. Someone who you have known and loved for your entire life. Just a look can speak volumes, you go back through years, share laughs, share pain, and instantly know exactly what that person is thinking. It is truly a gift to cherish those moments, isn't it?
Now imagine that those eyes you are sharing this emotional connection through, are the color of a yellow highlighter. When you looked into my sister's eyes, you couldn't believe that it was possible for the whites of a person's eyes to be that color.
How many diseases out there have people been diagnosed with, suffered from, and died from that most of us have never even heard of? Only those unfortunate and unlucky enough to be personally affected learn the names. Diseases like Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC). A horrible affliction that causes inflammation and subsequent obstruction of bile ducts of the liver. The inflammation impedes the flow of bile to the gut, which can ultimately lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure. The liver is unable to cleanse the toxins out of the body, the build up of these poisons can cause any number of issues throughout the body. Val suffered not only from extreme jaundice, but also constant itching she described as being covered completely head-to-toe in mosquito bites, brain fog so confusing she sometimes couldn't even recognize her children, and utterly debilitating exhaustion.
Val was diagnosed with PSC in 1997. She was on the transplant list and waiting for a healthy liver for a very long time. She had a few close chances. The hospital would call and say to stand-by, that they had a possible donor and that she needed to be ready to get to the hospital. They would call back as soon as they were sure it was a match. She always had a bag packed and ready for that trip. That positive call never came. "We are so sorry, it's not a match this time. It's too big, the valves won't match up. It's the wrong tissue type. You're too sick to operate on right now. Someone else was a better candidate ..." Ultimately, that follow-up call never came, and Val lost her battle when her liver and 7 other internal organs shut down on September 16, 2014.
Family was the most important thing in Val's life. Her existence revolved around her children. The doctors did all they could to keep Val alive to watch her children grow up. She was able to see her son happily married, and to help her daughter plan her dream wedding...and nurses promised they would help her Skype if she was unable to attend. She held her granddaughter when she was born and lived to see her crawl and walk and start to talk. There was nothing else that brought more happiness to her life than her children and their families.
The unfortunate reality is that when a person slips this mortal coil, the 20 year battle with a debilitating disease leaves behind a mountain of medical expenses. If you should be in a fortunate situation to help we would be grateful beyond words. All funds raised will go directly to easing the burden on her family caused by medical bills, any excess will be donated to the American Liver Foundation. www.liverfoundation.org
We also ask that if you are not already, please become an Organ Donor. It is one thing you are in control over that can save lives. We cannot all be doctors or firefighters and save lives, but with organ donation we have a chance! Donate the gift of LIFE! www.organdonor.gov
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