How My Son Got A New Liver: The View From My Chair

April is National Donate Life Month and Bunny, Pip, and I want you to be very aware because without organ donation and transplant, Pip wouldn’t be with us today.

More than 115,000 men, women, and children need life-saving organ transplants right now and every 10 minutes, another name is added to the list. An average of 18 people die each day waiting for organs.

This month, I’m gonna tell Pip’s story – a little bit every day. We need to improve these statistics. Learning more and talking more and sharing more is the first step.

The View From My Chair

In the movies, the doctor comes out to the waiting room and says that the surgery went well and everyone hugs and knows the character is going to be involved in the rest of the film.

In real life, with a surgery like transplant, it’s really nice if they can come out and say it went well, but transplant recipients generally aren’t lost on the operating table.  They are lost in the days and weeks after.

The first few days, the biggest worries are clots and infection.  They closed the incision with staples rather than stitching it up because they needed to be able to quickly open him back up in case of emergency.  If a clot forms in the veins or artery where the weird connections in the plumbing have been made, it will cut off the blood flow to the new liver and, unless the team can remove it right away, the organ will be lost.  Or a clot can break off and travel to another organ and mess stuff up.  Clots are bad news – and pretty common with transplant.

Infection is, of course, another big huge risk.

Later in the first week is when they start looking for signs of rejection.

And Pip, of course, went through a major surgery with lungs that were half-filled with fluid.

So, when the surgeon and Pip’s hepatologist and the GI attending all came out to the waiting room to tell me that the surgery went well, they were reserved.  I said I kinda wanted to hug them.  His surgeon said,”No.  Not now.  You can hug me when he’s released.”

I was told that his recovery would be a roller coaster.  I was told that cautious optimism was all that was allowed at that point.

So, Pip and I cautiously and optimistically moved into our room in the PICU – one of the rooms right at the entrance near the double doors they would use if he needed to be rushed back to the OR.  He was in a crib in the center of the room attached to a maze of wires and plastic tubing.  I was in my green leather chair that converted into a cot in the far right-hand corner.  Pip’s nurse, who was assigned only to him, sat at a computer just outside the open glass door.

This was the view from my chair.


The view from mom's chair


If you wanna go back to the beginning and read the whole story, click this here link.

To learn more about organ donation and to make sure you’re on the registry for your state, visit

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