There have been many different waiting periods in this journey. Waiting to get the initial blood type test. Waiting to get insurance approval to move on to evaluations and screening. Now, it was waiting for the results of that screening to see if I was actually, truly, fit to donate and if my liver was a good match for Randy’s.

So I want to share why this waiting period was so important for me.

First, let’s acknowledge that waiting sucks. You have no control and can’t do anything to move the process forward. No one likes this. My cousin’s health continued to decline. We still didn’t know yet if a transplant was possible. He was afraid to hope because he’d been getting bad news for years.

I dreamt about the transplant. 

I went to sleep every night praying about it. For my cousin. For my family. I woke up thinking about the transplant. I went over and over the notes I’d taken on what to expect if I was approved. 7 hours of surgery? Not being able to lift my child for over a month? How would all of this really effect my life? I didn’t want to move forward blindly. I wanted to be sure I understood the risks, big and small, likely and unlikely.

At this point, I had been trying to wrap my mind around all of this for 2 months. It did take a bit of an emotional toll. However, I believe the waiting allowed me to do some weeding.

I need gobs of time to process stuff like this. Waiting to hear from UCSF gave me that time. Time to dig up any doubts I had or consider any regrets I might have. Time to get to the root of any fear related to the transplant.

God used this time to help me

Evaluate my motives. 

Was I doing this for the wrong reasons? What are the right reasons? What if my cousin dies anyway – would that change how I feel about it? Like, would I feel like it had been for nothing or would I feel confident I did the right thing regardless?

Visualize the outcomes of potential risks. 

What if I died? What if I needed a new liver? What if we couldn’t have anymore kids for some reason? What if my body couldn’t absorb fat anymore and I had to make major changes to my diet? What would each of those outcomes mean for me, for my husband, our child, our future?

Sit with my fear. 

Considering each potential risk was like dropping a pebble into water. As the scenario played out, ripples of fear would surface. Instead of ignoring them, I tried to understand them. Why was I afraid of these things? What did that tell me about where my heart was at?

I brought these fears to the Bible, asking God to help me see His perspective.

Let love conquer fear. 

After many tear puddles and gut prayers, the ripples of fear would calm. What remained was a still confidence in God; that His love is unfailing, that He is able to do more than I ever could, and that ultimately I trust Him to take care of me and my family more than I trust myself.

From this place of stillness and peace, I can say my greatest desire is to reflect God’s love through this transplant.

Waiting boosted my confidence.

I have a giant list of things I wanted to do this year plus all the dreams for my future and family. I work hard for my health and fitness. And yet, I know I can lay all those things down if God has another plan. Working through these things made my faith stronger and me more confident than ever that this was God’s plan.

I obsessed over test results.

It didn’t take long for test results to start showing up on MyChart. This is a secure, online portal where medical patients can access records, test results, see or schedule appointments and communicate with service providers.

I’d research each result that came in. Not that it helped much. Most of the results were just numbers to me. I kept seeing these words: “unremarkable” or “as expected”. Most wouldn’t find it comforting to be labelled this way, but when it comes to the condition of your innards I suppose this is a pretty good thing.

From the results, I learned that the left lobe of my liver is about 38% of my total liver volume. That’s the lobe I’ll get to keep. The right 62% of my liver will be all for my cousin.

The lab work and health exam confirmed that I was in good health. The chest Xray and ultrasound gave them a closer look at my abdomen and found no abnormalities there. Whew. The Transthoracic Echo and EKG told them my heart was healthy and strong enough to withstand the surgery. Also, they tested to see if my blood clots normally.

The big questions were answered with the CT and MRI.

  1. Do I have a large enough liver volume? They have to be able to divide it into two pieces that will still be big enough to support the donor and recipient respectively.
  2. Are the bile ducts and veins big enough? The surgeon must attach them to the ones in the recipient. I imagine trying to stitch milk straws together. They’ve got to be big enough to make this possible.

Approved to Donate

On April 4th, I heard from UCSF. So far my test results were good but a few more were coming in. I was 1 digit below the normal range for Protein C in my blood (prevents blood clots), but that was not a cause for concern.

On April 6th they confirmed all results were in and things looked good but the official green light to be a liver donor was waiting on Dr. Roberts return from a trip.

On April 10th I got that green light. Dr. Roberts had come back early and gave me the stamp of approval. I texted my cousin and called his mom right away. They were all on the way to the hospital when they got my voicemail and cried with relief.