fbpx

How my son saved my life by donating his liver

Usually it’s the son who looks up to his dad as his hero but for me, my son is my hero. His selfless decision to donate his liver saved my life.

I was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in September 2018. While I had been showing symptoms for a while prior, I was still in denial when I received the diagnosis.

Being diagnosed with cirrhosis meant that my liver was scarred and permanently damaged. Over time, my liver would begin to fail.

We immediately started learning all we could to hopefully slow the progression of the disease and stay ahead of it the best we could. Despite taking all the necessary precautions, one Sunday morning the reality of my diagnosis became clear.

Just two months after receiving my diagnosis, my wife and son tried to wake me up, but I was unresponsive.

I was rushed to the hospital in Seminole, Texas, and later transferred to a different hospital in Lubbock, where I spent four days in a comatose state with hepatic encephalopathy (brain disorder that happens as a result of severe liver disease). That was the first time a liver transplant was mentioned to me by my doctors.

Over the next six months, my condition improved. I was able to return to work and continue most of my normal activities. By April 2019, my doctors were satisfied with my progress and decided that a transplant might not be necessary. That was a relief!

But the following June proved otherwise. While in Dallas on vacation, it became hard for me to stay awake. Thinking it was due to high blood sugar, I tried to adjust my eating habits and thought that would help with the fatigue. After two days of not being able to stay awake, we returned to the emergency room back home in Lubbock. There, we were informed that my sodium level was critically low due to the failing of my liver.

I hope this story encourages more people to research organ donation, but even if that is not an opportunity you are given, I hope more people consider registering to be an organ donor.

I was flown to Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth, where my sodium was stabilized and I began the testing to be approved to be placed on the liver transplant list. My doctors recommended looking into a living donor transplant as the need for one was becoming more imminent.

My daughter Ashley had already researched living donor transplants after my diagnosis the year prior, so we already had an idea of what would be required to be approved. After talking to the doctors, we knew the donor would need to be close to my size and a blood match. 

My son Derek was determined to be the donor but would need to undergo testing to determine if he would be a match. Fortunately, he was approved to be a donor at the end of July and surgery was scheduled for August 16th

As a father, I was hesitant to let my son take that risk. He is a healthy 22-year-old college senior, and I didn’t want him to do anything to jeopardize his future. But after talking with my family, and seeing my son’s persistent determination, we decided to continue with the surgery.

Related: With dialysis looming, Kenny’s transplant was the gift of a lifetime

We went for pre-op two days before the surgery and had our fears and concerns eased by the team of surgeons as they explained the surgeries in depth and reassured us that we had made the right decision. Both surgeries went very well and we were impressed with not only the surgeons, but all of the staff who aided in our recovery.

We are both home and doing great! My son is back at school continuing his degree and on track to graduate in May 2020. As for me, I am only a few weeks out from returning back to work.

Words cannot describe how blessed I am to have a son who was willing to donate part of his liver to save my life. That day, he didn’t just give me a new liver — he gave me a second chance at life.

I will now have the opportunity to watch my son graduate and start a family of his own one day. I will get to watch my twin granddaughters grow up. I will get to get back to doing the activities I enjoy.

Words cannot describe how blessed I am to have a son who was willing to donate part of his liver to save my life. That day, he didn’t just give me a new liver — he gave me a second chance at life.

The last year has been hard on our family. I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without my wife standing by me and never losing faith, or without the doctors at Baylor Scott & White and their dedication to the living donor program.

After telling my story, I have been surprised at the amount of people, including people who work in the medical field, who did not know about the living donor option for liver transplants. While I was blessed to have a son who was a perfect match and more than willing to donate, thousands of people still remain on the transplant list waiting for a donor.

I hope this story encourages more people to research organ donation, but even if that is not an opportunity you are given, I hope more people consider registering to be an organ donor. One organ donor can save eight lives, and that person may just be able to give a dad a chance to see his son graduate, or a grandfather a chance to watch his granddaughters grow up.

You can make a difference in someone else’s life. Become a living organ donor today.

This blog post was contributed by Todd Cox, proud father of Derek — his hero.

Leave a Reply

How my son saved my life by donating his liver