Friday, March 13, 2015

Under the Microscope

When I agreed to be interviewed by my niece and her boyfriend—two first-year Mercer medical students—about my liver transplant, I didn't think it would be too challenging. In fact I was honored to have been chosen as a specimen for their research paper.

As we proceeded through the interview, I realized that the clinical questions would be few and that most of the questions revolved about feelings and perceptions. I really had to dig through my past and unearth emotions that I hadn't thought about in years. It was painful to remember how I felt not knowing if or when I would qualify for a donor liver and being fearful that I wouldn't survive the ordeal. I was asked how having a terminal disease affected my family life and how they reacted to that knowledge. Because in the early years of my disease I had two young sons, I had to be strong for them as well as myself. It was a time of wanting to be dependent on others, but because I was a widow for much of that time, realizing I only had myself and my relationship with God to sustain me. 

We also discussed the role and the work required of Charles, my second husband and caregiver. He married me knowing that I would need a transplant. After one year of marriage, I went into a rapid decline that led to me being placed on the national transplant list. He devoted much of his time and energy into transporting me back and forth to Emory Hospital for all the required testing and checkups. It seemed like he had to make that hour-long drive in Atlanta traffic at least once a week. We couldn't plan anything not knowing if and when a donor liver would be available. I never would have made it through the long ordeal without all this care and support.

Then the line of questioning moved into my post-transplant years. I explained how difficult it was to adjust to all the new drugs surging through my body, along with the lack of sleep that accompanied those drugs. I wanted to reclaim the years I had lost to disease, but some days I still struggled to put one foot in front of the other. Because I was immune suppressed I was always afraid of infection or that my body would reject my new liver.Those fears lessened over time as my lab reports showed that my body was adjusting very well to my donor liver.

From time to time I have some anxious thoughts about how long my borrowed liver will stay healthy. I often think about my donor family and the loss that they experienced.Then I remember how far God has brought me from that day in 1981 when I was told I had a terminal liver disease. He has never let me down and each day I choose to place my future in His loving and faithful hands. I just pray that I will faithfully serve Him with how ever many days I have left.


  1. This is a great testimony, Frieda. I enjoyed reading.
    Sandra A

  2. Such a wonderful story of faith and hope. So glad you decided to share your journey with others through your blog and book. You are amazing Frieda. I miss you.