In 1994, one of our council members, Paul Hain, was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Paul was able to control the disease, but in 2007 he was informed that he had Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, (PSC) an exceedingly rare liver disease that is fatal without a transplant. In 2009 Paul was placed on the cadaver transplant list and he waited two and a half years for his levels to get high enough for a transplant, but that never happened. Paul was encouraged to seek out a transplant center that does living donations and that search led him to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
None of Paul’s family members were a match; however, his daughter had the idea to put his story on Facebook. Finally Paul received good news. One of his daughter’s childhood friends “saw the Facebook story and contacted my daughter. She was motivated and confident that this was meant to be for her. She was tested at Northwestern and was determined to be perfect match. She accepted being a donor, and that puts events in motion that resulted in my successful transplantation” Paul recalled.
Kathy’s willingness to be a liver donor led to Paul’s successful transplant). “I can remember regaining consciousness after surgery. A nurse was beside me and saw me struggle with the ventilator. She said a doctor was coming and that I should be patient. They took the tube out and I realized I was alive. When I saw my face, my color was normal and my skin had normal body oils, something I had not seen in years. Then, my thought turned to needing to know Kathy was all right” Paul said. Kathy was fine; she even had a smile on her face.
“I’m alive today because of my family, Kathy and her family and of course the NMH staff. My goal was to live to be part of my granddaughter’s life, and now I thankfully am. She was there during my surgery, though she took a nap or two,” Paul said.
Recovery took about five months for Paul, and his hepatologist now says his liver is a superstar. Paul was very impressed with the staff at Northwestern. “ About eight months after transplantation, I’m on the elevator at Northwestern riding alone up to the Kovler Transplant Center for an appointment with my hepatologist. The car stops and in comes Dr. Abecasis, the head transplant surgeon, who did my surgery, holding his briefcase. He looked deep in thought. I recognize him, but opt not to interrupt him. Suddenly, he glanced over at me and very casually said, ‘So, how’s your new liver doing?’ I was very impressed that he remembered me, given all the patients and responsibilities he has. The whole group of doctors, nurses, PA’s, phlebotomists and Cory, the director, really worked hard to make me comfortable and to do things in a very professional way.”
Paul is very proud and grateful to Northwestern and their transplant center. His experience has led him to be part of Transplant Advisory Council. “Dan Dickinson has provided fine leadership of the Transplant Advisory Council, of which I am a proud member. Every month, more progress is made to help the transplant program at Northwestern be the finest in the country and helping families with all the work that goes along with supporting a family member who gets a transplant. My story is but one of many that owes it all to Northwestern and the people whose heart just demands that they help a human being in desperate need. I am, indeed, a fortunate man.”