WILSON DISEASE & LIVER TRNASPLANT
"My name is Abby, I’m 21 years old and a junior in college. I was born with a rare genetic liver condition called Wilson’s Disease. It’s where your liver can’t properly eliminate or process copper and so instead, it accumulates in your liver and then other organs as well. I pretty much had asymptomatic symptoms of this disease throughout life- besides anxiety and other mental struggles that I didn’t know came along with the disease. Within a week before my transplant, (at 20 years old) I began having physical symptoms like jaundice, swelling of my legs and abdomen, extreme fatigue, and throwing up stomach bile, etc. A few days before my transplant I was diagnosed with Wilson’s and stage 4 acute liver failure. I was given about 48 hours to live if doctors didn’t find a perfect match/donor. I was so sick that I don’t remember anything leading up to surgery. Luckily, my donor was a perfect match and saved my life on September 21st of 2021.
After transplant, my kidneys shut down and were functioning under 8%. I had to do inpatient dialysis for weeks. As of today, my kidneys are functioning at the highest they ever will, which is about 60-70%. I got to go home 2 days before my 21st birthday. My family, nurses, doctors, and friends gave me continuous love and support throughout the hardest experience in my life. They are the main reason I’ve stayed so strong. I’ve learned that having the right mindset will take you very far in life, especially as a transplant recipient.
I love sports. I played soccer and volleyball growing up. In college I got into working out and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I’ve always made sure to get good grades while allowing myself to enjoy the college experience as well. I’m a psychology major and my transplant has gotten me even more invested in my major. My goal is to earn my bachelor’s degree and then my master’s. Post transplant, I’ve considered becoming a transplant psychologist and helping people cope with something that I’ve been through as well. It’s hard being different. I’m at the age where my friends are living very exciting lifestyles, going out, and enjoying being 21. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not the lifestyle that I am living- due to the pandemic and other reasons. Sometimes, it can be hard to witness people doing things that you can’t partake in. I always tell myself that everyday is a bonus day and that I’m blessed to be here, to feel good, and to have gotten a transplant. It’s the little (but very big) things you need to remember. I remember relearning to walk and how 3 months later I’m able to run again. I remember how hard I had to fight for this life and how determined I am to continue fighting for a good life. Progress is everything. I stay focused on healing."