Liver recipient still grateful after 26 years

Liver recipient still grateful after 26 years

Paula Shores

Date of Birth: 12/10/1959

Date of Organ Donation: 8/11/1995

Organ Donation story:

In August 1994 I was experiencing pain in my side. My doctor sent me for an ultrasound then a biopsy which confirmed a rare cancer — epithelioid hemangioendothelioma on my liver.

I was sent to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis where, after more testing, I was told I would be a great candidate for a liver transplant. In December 1994 I was added to the regional transplant list.

There were monthly doctor visits and bloodwork while working and raising my family. On August 11, 1995, while working at Petersburg Veterinary Clinic, the call came from Barnes hospital, they had a donor liver and were sure this would be the day.

I was taken into surgery at 8:30 p.m. and at 5:30 a.m. the next morning I was out of surgery. During that time there was a lot to learn about being immunocompromised. Once we were home, our family and friends gathered around us bringing meals and helping out with kids. In April 1996 I went back to work. Although there were a few bumps along the way, I have lived a full and wonderful life. I’m still in awe of the generosity and kindness of my donor family. Their gift of life to me is as dear now as it was almost 26 years ago.

Family and other personal information you wish to share:

My husband’s name is Luke. Our three children, Jobe, Canaan and Meghan, who were 12, 10, and 8 at the time of my transplant are now 38, 36, and 34. They are wonderful people. We have six grandchildren who are so much fun and give us lots of love. We have all been on this transplant journey together.

Any other information you wish to share about Organ Donation:

I was given the opportunity to correspond with my donor family through the transplant office a few months after my transplant. My donor’s name was Alicia. She was 17 years old when she died after an accident. In 1998 my family met Alicia’s mother after deciding we were ready to do that. I learned so much more about the young girl who would be my donor. She was a beautiful soul. Because of Alicia, I’ve celebrated birthdays, watched my kids graduate and was there for their weddings. I’ve held my grandbabies and kissed their cheeks.

I encourage anyone who hasn’t made a decision yet to become an organ donor to please consider it. I am alive today, over 25 years later, because Alicia took the time to learn about organ donation. She then took the steps to become a donor by signing her driver’s license, but most importantly by telling her family of her wishes. And for that, I am forever grateful.

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