John’s Liver Donation to his Wife, Christine

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John and Christine’s Story

We were happily married on Oct 27, 2007 after knowing each other since 1997 in High School. John works for UNICEF in Human Resources and Christine works for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Daytime Emmy).

As a baby, Christine was born with Biliary Atresia. She had a Kasai Procedure performed when she was 6 weeks old which allowed her liver to function normally until recently. She was recently diagnosed as needing a new liver.

As luck goes, John was found to be a perfect match and the living Donor Operation was performed on August 14th, 2008. Her liver functions are very good but unfortunately, there has been some setbacks. Christine has a bile duct leak that needs to be repaired and we are updating this blog daily to share our news and status.

Thank you so much for checking up on us and we thank you all for your support throughout this delicate time.

John and Christine

Donor Experience

I could tell you a bit about my experience. It has been over 2 ½ months since the surgery. I still remember the day I went into surgery. Of course, we were very nervous when we checked in early that morning. I said goodbye to my family the night before since the operation started at 5am. The surgery took about 6 hrs for me and about a little over 7 for my wife. I don’t remember the first few days and one day just woke up from a dream. I was lucky enough that they removed the breathing tube before I woke up. The first week in the hospital was very tough. My stomach ached, I could not move and I always wanted more pain medicine. I was very hungry because they only fed through the IV but could not eat until I passed gas. What a relief it was literally when I did and was able to eat.  I spent 1 week in the hospital and then sent home. The 1st week at home was very tough as well. I had pains laying down flat and felt tired and exhausted everyday. The first two weeks are very hard but it gets a lot easier after that. I took medicine for about 3 weeks and then stopped. I had my staples taken out after a month. I basically began healing naturally and now after two months. I currently don’t have many side effects except I get tired very easily and have a lot less stamina. The Liver scar is very itchy and something feels like something is trying to poke out. I will eventually grow back a portion of the liver that I donated. Eventually, I am supposed to gain back my strength. I am able to have a normal diet. The donor chances of survival are very high. I think its like 99% chance success rate so I think your husband has a very good chance.

Recipient Experience

My wife, who was the recipient, has a harder road to recovery. My wife’s surgery was a success but she had minor complications and initially spent 2-3 weeks in the hospital. She was then discharged, stayed with her mom for a week and then came home. Unfortunately, she began to throw up and was re-admitted back to the hospital after a month. The doctors realized that she had a small bile duct leak that could cause long term problems and possibility of rejection if not repaired. The NYU medical team tried another PTC procedure but it was not successful. Finally, they were able to transfer us the Lenox Hill Hospital to Dr. Rosen who has many years of experience with bile duct PTC procedures and was able to repair it with glue. Currently Christine has to see him every 1/2 weeks for another PTC procedure. We were told that these complications will have to be taken step by step for full recovery. Good news at least, is that the Liver functions are very good meaning the body is accepting the Liver. The bile duct leak will take some time to heal. We also found out that after the surgery, Christine’s old liver had some lesions on it which possibly become cancerous in the future so it was a right decision for the surgery even with the complications.


Since Christine has a new liver; she needs to take a lot of medications to stop the body from rejecting the liver. Every day, the medicine makes her sick, nausea and she seems to throws up at least once a week. This part is very hard since I have to monitor her Blood Pressure, Weight, Temperature and check if she has any fever or problems every day. Any issues, I have to contact the medical staff immediately. After the PTC procedure, she currently has two drains connecting from her liver to bags outside her body. We count the bile output from the drains and show it Dr. Rosen every visit. Many times, the drain becomes clogged internally and either Christine gets ill or gets a fever and we have to immediately go in to fix it. Dr. Rosen says that we will see how it goes every week but by his estimate, hopefully, Christine can have at least one drain out with in 4/6 weeks.

Christine’s Diet

Christine has a special diet that she has to go on now. No more Raw Meats. That means no more sushi. Since Christine’s favorite food is sushi, it is a tough thing to give up but she had to give up her favorite food for a new liver. No more salmon rolls for her. She has to be careful eating certain shell fish. She has to make sure that everything is well prepared, meaning no more deli food, salads that been out too long or meat cooked medium rare. Everything has to be cooked, well prepared and bacteria free. No grapefruit as well.

Now every Living donor experience is different but I think the road is harder on the recipient of the liver. I spoke to another liver donor before the surgery and he told me that it is the best thing that he ever did. It is true, to be able to donate something to help someone you love is a great feeling and worth everything that I went through.