Did you know that UCLA Health conducts approximately 440 liver transplants every year? That's more than one transplant a day. Did you know that nationally, there are more than 14,000 people at any given time, on a waiting list hoping to be matched with a new liver from an organ donor? There are many other mind-blowing facts about organ transplants that you can find out about online, if you're interested.
Gerardo and I have been spending much time at UCLA Health as he has had to undergo numerous tests required before he is either accepted or rejected to the UCLA liver transplant program. The tests are what inform the medical team whether the rest of his body is ready to receive a new organ. (His failing liver is related not to alcohol, but to bile duct cancer that he had removed in 2013.)
Today, July 16th, has been on calendar for some time, as the date when our caseworker would present his case to the UCLA medical board to determine whether he would become accepted. I'm more than happy, jubilant really, to report that UCLA Health has officially accepted him into the program. For that reason, we are celebrating and feeling grateful for the team of UCLA doctors, nurses, and administrators who have provided and will continue to provide us with the highest of care.
There are many more mountains ahead of us, including the most daunting one which is that his liver needs to become much worse (as measured by the MELD score) before he moves up on the priority list and then into surgery, followed by recovery. As his full-time caregiver (and part-time everything else), I shudder to think that he will suffer more as he moves up to the top spot on the waiting list. He has suffered so much already.
It's better not to fixate on that too much as we take one moment at a time. One breath in at a time. One breath out at a time.
I like to imagine surmounting every mountain and hoping that maybe one or two years from now, he will have a new liver, with no more days of acute suffering, with the coffee brewing, the sun rising, the trees rustling, and the birds chirping. That's my hope. I suppose if all this comes into fruition many will call the transplant a miracle. But I will call it science. And I'll give credit to the brilliant doctors and scientists who instead of squandering their God-given talent, they applied it to study and practice their specialties in medicine for the benefit of humanity, no matter the outcome.
Per learning about organ transplants, I've decided to become an organ donor when it's my time to leave the earth. It's been freeing to realize that burial and cremation aren't the only two options at the end of life. As an organ donor, my parts could help many humans experience more life and less suffering. It's important to note that more important than checking the box at the DMV or registering at assorted donor registries, the most important way to be a donor is to make my family and all of my doctors know that that is my intent and desire.
I will be providing periodic updates here as we continue on this journey. And as I meditate on the wisdom of I Thessalonians 5:18, I shall IN all circumstances, give thanks.