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Karen Mattox

I had suffered for 14 years with PBC and auto immune hepatitis. Itching and fatigue were my main symptoms. I had been mis-diagnosed for at least two years, as they assumed it was a skin disorder. I had tried every kind of itching cream imaginable!

Once I was diagnosed correctly and put on medication, I remained stable until I wasn’t!

On the fourth of July 2020, I went home from celebrating and my legs and feet were very swollen. I told myself it was from being on my feet in the hot sun all day, drank some water and went to bed. The next day I called my doctor. I just didn’t feel right. A few tests later and I was told I was in early organ failure and was referred to UNMC.

It was all downhill from there. After more tests, scans and several paracentesis, I was admitted for an expedited full transplant work up. I was admitted over Labor Day weekend with a MELD score 0f 14. I went home for a few days and was right back in, my MELD went from 14 -35 in less than a week. On Sept. 18th I received the call right there in my hospital bed and on the 19th with a MELD of 39, I received my gift!

I constantly think about my donor and their family. I hope to one day connect with them!

It is a strange feeling carrying around a part of someone who you know nothing about, yet love and admire like crazy!

I have recovered well, I had no major issues and was back to work after six months.

It really was full circle for me, as my nephew had been in a boating accident 10 years earlier and had been on life support for several days. He was a donor and helped three  people with his organ donation. I knew how my donor family felt, as we had felt the same way! Such a bittersweet moment knowing that your loved one will pass but others will live!

I have started really living since my transplant and have vowed to travel more! I’m enjoying my grandson and have 2 trips planned for next year.