When I was a college sophomore I was diagnosed with Wilson’s Disease, a hereditary illness that meant that my body did not metabolize copper. Instead, copper that I ingested in food and water would migrate to my liver or brain. It could be treated with drugs and diet.
I seized upon that last bit of information and went back to living a normal life, with some adjustments made to this invisible disease. But Wilson’s Disease would become quite visible soon enough.
In August of 1990, I was working as a TV anchor at WFRV-TV in Green Bay. My health had slowly deteriorated over the years but in subtle ways. I felt tired frequently. I retained water. I had trouble eating. It was nothing that would really catch my attention. But I was about to get a violent shove.
After work one Friday, I felt unusually tired. A full night of sleep just left me exhausted. In the morning, I went into shock.
At St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, WI, I learned that I’d been bleeding internally all night, and by the time I arrived, my body was shot: veins collapsed, blood draining away, blood pressure at 50/10. I was conscious enough to know what was happening around me but was unable to move or speak. Once I was revived, the doctor told me that I needed a new liver, and I was immediately put on the transplant list at University Hospital in Madison, WI.
Fifteen hundred miles away, an 18-year-old boy was spending the day as a carefree high school senior should. Stopped at a stop sign, he must have seen the car behind him approaching too fast to stop. He died in the crash that followed. His death must have devastated his parents. But when a nurse approached them about donating their son’s organs, they responded with a generosity that still fills me with an overpowering awe. You see, their son’s liver went to me.
Twenty-eight years have passed since my life was restored through that miracle of God and modern medicine. I’m grateful every day for God’s blessings in my life, but most of all, for the generosity of my organ donor who gave me the ultimate gift- the gift of life.