I’m writing this open letter to ask for your help & prayers.
We are looking for 1 special person — one person who could be a hero in our lives, one person who could make a world of difference.
My husband Mark needs a liver donation from a healthy living donor, and he needs it soon. The amazing thing about the liver is that it regenerates! The donor will give Mark a piece of their liver. All of Mark’s liver will be removed. In the 8-12 weeks following, both livers will fully regenerate.
If you already know Mark, then you know what an outstanding person he is — a strong, hardworking man who goes out of his way to help others. A man who is very involved in his beloved church. A man of deep convictions. Just an all-out good guy. My good guy. My husband.
Let me tell you our story: In 1982, Mark was in a motorcycle accident that left him with a very badly broken leg. The doctors put a rod in his leg, and during the surgery, Mark was given a blood transfusion.
Well, in 2002, we discovered that the blood transfusion had been contaminated —something that was unfortunately a common problem in the 1970s & 1980s. Because of that tainted blood transfusion, Mark had contracted Hepatitis C. As a result, his liver function was compromised.
In 2002, the only treatment available was Interferon & Ribavirin, which his doctors said had a 50% success rate. The treatment was awful, and the side effects were similar to chemotherapy. Mark tried it, but after 12 weeks, he was a non-responder. It did not work. All we could do was to wait for science to find a cure for him and many others like him. In the meanwhile, his liver got worse.
In late 2014, a new cure emerged: a medicine called Harvoni. Mark’s doctors wanted him to try this new treatment for six months beginning in spring 2015. Our insurance company, however, refused to pay for the full duration of treatment. Since they would only cover three months, the doctors at Yale had us combine Harvoni with Ribavirin.
We were on our way to freedom from this terrible disease. Or so we thought.
Mark managed the treatment as well as can be expected, all while being on the job as a union Ironworker. Like I said, he is a strong man! Twelve weeks after treatment, the doctors checked to see whether it was successful. It had failed. Mark still had Hepatitis C, and he had reached Stage 4 Cirrhosis of the Liver.
His doctors were dedicated. They went back to the drawing board. This time, they prescribed three medicines off-label, which means that the medicines had not been FDA-approved as a combined treatment. But we were willing to throw everything we could at the disease. After four months fighting with our insurance, and largely thanks to Mark’s wonderful union rep, the cost was approved.
Hope again seemed in sight. Then, just after starting the meds, Mark had a liver scan. Our worst fears had come true: Cancer. Mark has cancer due to the Cirrhosis of the liver. He was diagnosed in March 2016.
We found out that Mark has cancer just 3 days before the one-year anniversary of my mother’s passing from cancer. Mark and I were by her side as she fought for four years. I now find myself fighting for my dear husband of 27 years!
Since then, Mark has had two surgeries that basically burn away the cancer. He completed six months of the Hepatitis C medications, all while going through the tests required to get on the liver transplant list.
The doctors believe that the Hepatitis C is finally history, but the cancer brings on a whole new host of problems. We are left with only one option to get him back to 100% so he can live out the rest of his life: a new liver, the only way to know all the cancer is gone.
His doctors at Yale don’t think he has the time to wait to get to the top of the transplant list. Since his liver is compromised, the doctors believe it’s highly probable that the cancer will return, and, in the worst case scenario, they fear it will spread beyond the liver. The doctors would like to see him get this transplant in the next two months, by the end of October, if possible.
Mark and I are in a situation that requires us to go public with our fight for life. We can no longer fight this alone. Those of you who know me know that I rarely ask for help. I have always thought, “I can do it!” I can’t do it this time. I can’t fix this. We need a hero!
The law states that we cannot buy an organ, but we can pay for lost wages. Our insurance company will pay all of the medical expenses.
I realize not everyone is up for this huge request, but I’m hoping for 1 person willing to give the gift of life. We need a healthy living donor with blood type A or O.
If you’re interested in being our hero, please call Mark’s liver transplant coordinator at 866-925-3897. They will be able to answer all of your questions and let you know all about being a living donor.
Please keep us in your prayers.
Much blessings to all,
with peace & love,
Photo: Mark organizing the stuff-a-truck food drive.