Donovan Degelau was overjoyed when he learned he was a living donor match for his father, who needed a liver transplant. “The liver is not nearly as picky as some organs,” he said. “And lucky for us, we got the green light.”
Donovan’s father was suffering from primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic disease that damages the bile ducts of the liver and slowly causes the liver to lose its ability to function. “Dad’s disease could only be helped by a liver transplant, and he was not moving up the list quick enough to keep him from losing to its damage,” Donovan explained.
Donovan expected the surgery to take seven or eight hours, but he was greatly disappointed when he awoke to learn that the procedure had been aborted because of a problem with his portal vein and atypical branches in his liver. “They had to close my father up with his failing liver still in him,” he said. At that point, Donovan’s father had only two to three days to receive a liver that would save his life.
“We needed a gift, and our prayers were answered the next evening,” Donovan explained.
A 50-year-old woman had lost her life that night. Donovan said that her courage to be a donor had given life back to his father.
“On December 18, 2003, my father got his transplant and began his path back to a life he could enjoy with his family,” Donovan said. “It has been almost 10 years, and my dad is doing great. He knows that every day is a gift that must be cherished.”