My name is Jameson and I gave half of my liver to a brother in Christ, a friend, and coworker in November 2015.
The road to donation was quite the unexpected journey. What sustained me through the challenge was a conviction that God had invited me to the opportunity and was with me as I said yes. I was excited to be a part of the miracle that God was doing in my recipient’s story, and in me as well!
Before donation, I was in decent shape having run a few half marathons and a full marathon. Knowing I was going to be a donor encouraged me to get in the best shape of my life. If I was going to go into the hospital healthy and get wrecked then I wanted to give myself the best starting place for recovery.
Despite the work of preparation, the phase of recovery was even more important and very much an athletic event. Having cut through 6-8 inches of the entire abdominal wall there is a lot of restriction in how much you can move or lift for a number of weeks. It’s a delicate balance of baby steps without overdoing it. The first focus was on walking, eating, passing bowel movements, etc. The liver re-grew to nearly full size in a few weeks. I was off intense pain medication after two weeks then transitioned slowly off of Tylenol.
I immediately focused on my abdominal range of motion and walking distances, reintroducing low impact and bodyweight exercises after the first month. I noticed that my abdominal wall was starting from near zero. The most important thing I learned and would counsel anyone is to not rush back too soon. If anything, err on the side of caution. I think I escaped the high-risk of hernia because I did not rush back into too intense workouts or activities. That being said, I wish I ramped up my physical exercise over a longer period of time then I did.
My whole recovery took about 2 months to return to work and about 6 months to feel completely back to a new normal. I believe because of the function of the liver in our bodies that my body handles food a little bit differently. I have digestive issues that I did not have before but also have not been directly linked to the surgery. Besides my digestive tract, I have a sweet scar on my abdomen and I’m back to doing all my regular stuff. I’ve gone back to running and completed another half marathon. I do take it easy on lifting too much as my ongoing risk for hernia is higher than it otherwise would be.
In the end, my recipient’s quality of life went way up and he added, perhaps, a few more decades to his life. The journey for me was spiritual and physical in nature and I wouldn’t change it.