Hey! I’m alive! Haha. In my last post, I wrote what I expected to happen for my living liver donor surgery. Here’s what actually happened. Let’s start with the night before.

I had a private room at the hospital! So very nice. My husband hung out with me for a while and we watched football and then Tombstone on the giant TV. I was visited by:

  • Vivek, a liver specialist I believe, to see if I had any questions.
  • Collin with some release forms.
  • Chris with a request to use my liver scraps for research.
  • Rosa, my day nurse put in my IV port and got some blood.
  • Ryan, my night nurse explained how to self-administer the suppository.

Yup. Lots of new and fun experiences.

Pre-Op

They came to fetch me around 5:30 am. I texted my husband who had slept at the hotel with our son. They had a long day ahead and needed a good night’s rest. He replied that he was up and on his way to meet me at pre-op.

I was wheeled down to the 4th floor. A surgical nurse, two anesthesiologists, and a liver transplant doctor all came to say hi. I have the surgical nurse my disposable camera in a sealed plastic bag.

I did some stretches. I got a hair cap. I got to see my husband and then my adoptive mom brought my son to see me. He was so tired he stared blankly while I gave him a kiss goodbye.

I was scheduled for 7:30 am in the operating room.

The last thing I remember is being wheeled out of pre-op. We went down a hallway. I said goodbye to my husband. One of the anesthesiologists pushed open a door and said something about keeping my arms and legs inside and enjoying the ride. Then…I was out.

Surgery Timeline

I collected these notes from the journal I gave my family in the waiting room. As the nurse would come and update them, they would jot down what was said about the progress of the surgery.

By 7:50 am they had opened me up to check my anatomy and make sure it looked as expected. My family went back to the hotel to have breakfast and let our son run around.

At 9:35 am nurse Mary called my husband. They had started removing the right lobe of my liver. My cousin was headed into the next operating room.

At 11:04 am they were still in process of dividing my liver. Dr. Roberts (my cousin’s surgeon) had come in to my OR to see the piece of liver he was going to get.

Around noon my family headed back to the hospital. They found my cousin’s family and waited together. 

At 12:40 pm nurse Mary left my husband another message. They were almost done and Dr. Ascher would be in the surgical waiting room by 1:15.

At 12:50 pm my family got to the waiting room just in time for Dr. Ascher to walk in. She said I did great and they were closing me up.

At 1:20 pm my husband saw me leaving the OR for ICU on the gurney. I was already awake and they told me, “Look who it is!” I don’t remember, but apparently I gave my husband a thumbs up. Nurse Mary told him they could come see me on the 9th floor ICU in about an hour.

At 2:00 pm my family had finished eating lunch. Randy’s surgery was still underway. They were hanging out with my cousin’s family and the mood was light.

Randy’s Surgery

In the next post I’ll talk about recovering in the ICU for me. But I want to mention, generally, how things turned out for my cousin Randy, my liver recipient. Apparently his surgery had taken a bit longer than expected. Once they had opened up his abdomen they found there were more issues than they realized. Not in regards to the liver, per say, but other things that…well, I hope he writes about it in his memoir someday. I’m only here to share my side of the story, really.

The good news is that my liver was a perfect match. And UCSF was able to follow-up with Randy in the coming year to get those other things they found all fixed up. Which, all together, not only saved his life but improved the quality of it as well.