Debbie and Maddie McCoy
Maddie was born a healthy baby, or so we thought. When she was nine months old I took her to her pediatrician for her wellness visit. A few days prior, and up to the day of the visit, she had been irritable and nauseated. At this visit I voiced my concern about her becoming dehydrated and mentioned that she had not urinated since the previous day. I also noticed her legs seemed to be getting bigger. The pediatrician told us all was well and we went home.
As the day progressed, her legs became bigger and bigger, so I took her to a different pediatrician that evening. The pediatrician ran lab work and told me she would call me later that evening. That call changed our life.
We were told Maddie was in kidney failure and she was rushed to a Portland area hospital. After several days in the ICU we were told Maddie would need a kidney transplant. She was diagnosed with a very rare disease called Denys-Drash Syndrome. Maddie spent several days and weeks in and out of the hospital. She had to start dialysis, had several surgeries, and a feeding tube was implanted.
When we brought her home I had to give her dialysis 12 hours per day, she had to be on the feeding machine 10 hours per day, and she received four bolus feedings per day. Along with checking her blood pressure and weight twice daily, she was also given medications throughout the day and an Epogen shot once a week. There was not one hour in every day that went by where I wasn't caring for her or cleaning up vomit.
After being on dialysis for nine months her body cavity was finally large enough to receive my kidney. On September 30, 2005, at 18 months of age, Maddie received her kidney transplant at Doernbecher Children's Hospital. Doernbecher has been absolutely wonderful! It has been almost 10 years since her transplant, and Maddie is doing great! We know she may need another transplant in the future, but for now she continues to enjoy what she loves: Soccer, dance, basketball, and, throwing the football.
Almost seven years ago a doctor said to me, "I suspect you will need a liver transplant one day." I never thought it would be this soon – for years I felt fine. Then one day, things changed for the worse. Another doctor would confirm that my liver was failing, and we needed to focus on getting on the transplant list, soon. I will never forget that day, the day it was confirmed. I was slowly dying. There was no cure or special drug I could take, my only chance was to get my name added to the transplant list, and hope that a liver would become available. I told myself, I was going to fight with all that I have; I want to beat this.
Some months went by, and my health continued to depreciate. I had many close calls requiring many trips to the emergency room, and then one day right after what should have been an outpatient procedure, a small team of doctors would say to me, "you won't be going home" ; in fact, I was told that I would not be leaving the hospital until I received a liver. I was smart enough to know the alternative; they didn't need to tell me.
So, there I was, day after day, wondering if I would wake up tomorrow and get to see my family again. My health continued to decline, and I was becoming weaker each day. However, I always found enough strength to run to the window of my hospital room when I heard the engine of that Life Flight helicopter. I couldn't help but wonder if it was delivering a special gift for me.
Just as I thought things were bad enough, things got even worse, and I found myself being rushed to ICU; I was in big trouble. Thank God for miracle credits, I cashed in two that night. A few days later, I knew my body was finished; tired of fighting – I could feel it. I didn't enter this fight to quit; rather, I would continue to fight even though this may be one fight I would not win. Something told me it had to be decided within the week.
A few days later, I received the most important call of my life; a liver was available, and it was PERFECT for me!! After shedding several tears and confirming this wasn't just a dream, I contacted my wife to share the exciting news. Later that day an amazing team of medical professionals at OHSU would do what they do best, perform a lifesaving transplant surgery. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks; somewhere, an Angel was preparing for their journey to heaven, but before her wings would take her away she would give (gift) me a lifesaving organ and become my Hero. And, because of her, I now would get another chance, a second chance to live.
Every day, I think of my Angel Hero, Melissa Cranston Thorne, and I am happy to say that her family and mine are bonded for life. I know how blessed I am to be here today, and I will never forget. And, to the incredible staff at OHSU, and I mean every one of you, keep doing what you do best, and STAY AMAZING!!
"I won," Susan Hassett triumphantly declares. "Three months into recovery from a heart transplant, and I can say with confidence that I won." Susan's battle with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a life-threatening genetic heart disease, took a toll not only on her own health, but has also plagued members of her family. She was diagnosed only three months before her brother passed away from the same disease while waiting for a heart transplant. Throughout her multi-layered and complex experience, Susan's resilience and strength have been truly unfailing. "I fought against this heart disease the only way I knew how – with my brother's optimism, and through opportunities to educate the public about the pressing need for organ, eye and tissue donation," she says. Susan's personal fight against Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy has finally ended, thanks to one individual who registered as an organ donor. While an entirely new journey of post-transplant recovery has begun, Susan's wisdom and strength continue to grow and inspire those around her.
Robert Ayers barely witnessed his daughter Lauren's birth in October 2005. Just hours after bringing his wife, Jennifer, and the baby home from the hospital, Robert was hospitalized with further complications from the liver disease that has plagued him for over two years. Before his liver transplant, Rob Ayers feared he would not be alive to watch his newborn daughter Lauren grow up. Because of the generosity of his donor, exactly four months after transplant, Rob hiked to the summit of Mt. Adams with his wife Jen. Rob has been able to be a father to his daughter and celebrate the birth of his son Jonathan.