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Michael Patrick Mahoney's Story
I was born on July 28, 1980 at 4:44pm in Phoenix, Az. I was placed for adoption. When I was about eight weeks old, I was adopted. Three days later, my parents took me to pediatrician, Dr. Steve West who quickly discovered I had an enlarged liver. Within a day or so I was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital and was operated on by Dr. David Trump. Initially, it was believed that I had biliary atresia, but during the surgery, they determined that I was born without the main bile duct that comes out of the liver and goes into the intestines. So Dr. Trump built a bile duct and brought it to the surface of the skin. This surgery was called a Kasai procedure. It took several hours to see if the bile would drain. My mom explained that it was a beautiful sight when all of a sudden it started flowing! Two months later, Dr.Trump went back in and attached the new bile duct, inside to my intestines. This all happened before I was six months old. Since I was still a newly adopted child, the adoption agency extended an offer to my parents to take me back and they would be given a healthy child. This part of my life touches my heart more than words can say now, because they refused the offer, saying they had loved me the first second they saw me.
Over the next few years, outside of constant blood tests and doctor's visits, I lived a fairly normal life. When I was eight, I developed adhesions from the surgery I had as a baby. I was very lucky. They said it was caught early enough that they were able to operate and remove the adhesions, or scar tissue, without harming my intestines.
As a young boy, I excelled in baseball and track and field. As a member of the Arizona Puma Track Team, I went all the way to the National Junior Olympics, held in Lincoln, Nebraska, competing in a triathlon.
In April of 1994, I was admitted to the hospital with bleeding in my esophagus. I was treated by Dr. Mitchell Shub and Dr. West and spent a week in intensive care. In August that year, it was determined that I needed a new liver, as the time before my initial surgery as a baby had damaged my liver. Shortly after that, I was placed on the liver transplant list at UCLA Medical Center in California. Between April of 1994 and April of 1995 I was hospitalized eight times to have the blood vessels in my esophagus repaired, as I waited for a liver transplant.
In May of 1995, the call came from UCLA, that a liver was available. Another fourteen-year old boy had been killed in a car accident and his parents had made the life saving decision to donate his organs. I came through the surgery wonderfully and was out of the hospital in nine days. My family and I spent six weeks in California after the transplant and made trips back to UCLA every other month for checkups over the next two years.
In 2005, I had a major rejection issue, but my liver came back. When you received a liver as a child, as you grow into adulthood, the liver doesn’t always continue to work as it should. In 2009, my doctors determined my liver was actually failing, so I was placed on the transplant list at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, AZ. In 2011, I developed a blood clot inside my portal vein. It was surgically treated by inserting a TIPS shunt over the clot to properly maintain the blood flow. I have also now developed Hepatopulmonary Syndrome which is the enlarging of the blood vessels in the lungs. The dilated vessels make it hard for the lungs to deliver an adequate supply of oxygen to the body. A Liver Transplant is the only cure. This condition may quicken my advancement on the transplant list, possibly more so than the tests included in the Meld score. I have also now been added to the transplant list at UCLA.
As rules for transplants are much different now than they were in 1995, I have been waiting for four and a half years for a transplant. As I wait, I am unable to work both physically and mentally. I try to keep myself fulfilled by reading and writing, and if I have some energy and feel up to it, I paint. It's been a tough time waiting, because you're sick enough that you don't feel well, but not sick enough to get an immediate transplant. There are so many other things that happen to your body when your liver isn’t working correctly, things that aren’t considered in the Meld score.
This walk has given me something to look forward to not only because the funds raised will help educate and counsel liver transplant patients, but I hope that anyone that knows me or that I have touched in some way, will see how organ donation totally changes lives. I have lived almost twenty years because those parents in 1995 decided to donate their son's organs. It's my greatest wish to do what I can to bring organ donation awareness front and center, because it's so important.
Your donations to The American Liver Foundation will be greatly appreciated. I look forward to seeing and talking with you at the event.
|Denotes a Team Captain|