Yesterday was a difficult day. In addition to finding out about the other friend, I found out that a very good, old friend from high school is in some serious shape from advanced liver disease. He's one of the kindest, most genuine people one could ever meet. He was a year behind me in the class of 1993 at Berlin High School in Connecticut.
Here's the Facebook page that his older brother started:
Mark is 34 years old and has had a rough go of it. He experimented a bit in college and paid the ultimate price. While his friends went on to be healthy, he developed Hepatitis C. He went swimming in a fresh water pond and got cut on a rock, he got a flesh eating bacteria that left a foot long 3-inch wide scar on his leg. Mark was married and while driving with his wife, he was rear-ended by an uninsured motorist driving a U-Haul. The accident severely damaged his back. He was told that spinal fusion was an answer. A lot of hardware was installed, manipulated and 3 surgeries later removed from his back leaving him in pain during sitting and standing positions and unable to lift anything of consequence.
Mark started drinking to numb the pain and the alcohol accelerated the Hep-C beyond what he ever expected. He wasn't a drunk, his liver just couldn't handle alcohol. His liver began to shut down rapidly this year leaving him 50 pounds lighter due to his inability to digest anything and he developed ascites. Several paricentisis and hospital visits later and he has been hospitalized for nearly a month. His levels are all over the place and his kidneys are breaking down due to excess stress.
Livers can be transplanted from living donors and the host and recipient can re-grow them to full size in weeks. Mark had quit drinking months ago and has passed all of his psych evaluations as a recipient. Unfortunately, the instability of his endocrine and other systems puts him at a high risk for tragedy, He's in intensive care and is afraid he'll never make it home again.
If you are that one in a million who is both a willing donor and has blood type O+, please email me on Facebook (Kevin Brigandi) and we'll discuss the options. If you are everyone else, please sign a donor card and learn more about this topic. You may be able to save a family member or friend someday or another stranger who is simply too young to die and deserves a second chance.
Please, if you're touched by Mark's story and think you might be a match and are willing to get tested to help him, please do more than just consider it.