Organ donation is never easy. But when a loved-one is involved, there’s no question.
April is national Donate Life Month, a special time of remembrance for those who have been involved in organ donation.
Just ask two families, both of whom participated in live donations at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. They’ll attest to the importance of organ donation.
Jeremy and Tristan
After baby boy Tristan Therrman was born, his parents, Caroline and Jeremy, knew he was very sick.
“I had lost my job, I had a child on the way and then he came and he was seriously ill,” Jeremy said.
The only treatment to Tristan’s condition was a liver transplant.
“We found out when he was 7 weeks old, and they knew he would need a liver transplant by the time he was 1,” Caroline said.
Jeremy and the baby were blood matches, the first step in determining if live organ donation is an option. Within three weeks, they were wheeled into the operating room for surgery.
“We knew we had very little time left, we’re talking a matter of weeks,” Jeremy said. “If something didn’t happen we’d likely lose him.”
After the transplant, Tristan was immediately healthier than prior to surgery. He steadily recovered.
“I always think that no matter what happens to me throughout my life, this is an experience and a connection I’ll always have with my son,” Jeremy said. “If I accomplish nothing else in the rest of my life, this is something I’ll look back on and feel good about.”
Live donor liver transplantation, as Tristan had, does not replace traditional deceased donor transplantation, but it offers the possibility of transplantation to an additional 20 to 40 percent of patients in need.
The liver is a unique organ in that it can regenerate. When part of the organ is taken from the donor, the portion placed in the recipient will grow to a right size for the individual. Likewise, the donor’s liver will regenerate to its original size.
Derek and Logan
Derek Janiak and Logan Shannon are another family connected through marriage – and through organ donation.
Derek had a progressive liver disease that was severely affecting his quality of life. So his wife, a compatible blood match, chose to donate a portion of hers.
“When we met, and he did not tell me he needed a liver, but at some point it came up,” Logan said. “I think I flippantly said — at maybe two months into our relationship – ‘I’ll give you some of my liver, I don’t need the whole thing.'”
Through live donation, Logan was able to give Derek “a second chance to be the very best that he could be.”
“I love her as much as I did before the transplant,” Derek said. “I have more respect for her for being willing to donate while she’s alive.”
For more information on transplant and the program at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, visit our website.