Julie had a liver transplant in October of 2000 at the ripe age of 12 after a diagnosis of Acute Liver Failure. she was a perfectly healthy child until the very beginning of 7th grade. Julie started to get sick in early September with the symptoms of vomiting and being a little tired.
Julie writes: At first my pediatrician thought I had the flu but after a week of not getting any better and becoming jaundice, he ordered more tests. After several negative results he ordered more and more tests, all of which came back negative. Then he sent me to a gastroenterologist (GI) at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, only a 25 minute drive from my parents house. They were very concerned but told me to head home after a few more tests.
The next day I started to retain water and the GIs at Children's told me to come down and get admitted right away. The next day I had a surgical liver biopsy and was diagnosed with 7 days to live with my liver. I was put on the UNOS waiting list as status 1a and miraculously received my liver the very next day!
I had several complications the first year, three bouts of rejection as well as an angioplasty and second surgery to fix an artery stenosis problem. I started back at school four months after my transplant and was very excited to be a "normal" teenager again only to find I was not welcomed back at school as I had hoped. My journey back to normalcy and teen life became the hardest obstacles for me and have spurred my passion of adolescent transplant support.
I had my last complication in 2003 when I had rejection for the 4th time, but I have been completely healthy since then!
With a lot of hard work and determination, I have now graduated from University of Cincinnati (UC) with a degree in Biomedical Engineering and plan to start Medical School at UC in the fall. I always had an interest in medicine but after my transplant experience, I have chosen to pursue medicine as my career with a goal of becoming a pediatric GI, possibly a liver transplant specialist. I hope to improve the transplant field and have a positive effect on future generations of transplant recipients like my transplant team did for me.
Currently, I work at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, the same place I received my transplant, in the Gastroenterology Division as a research assistant in clinical research studies. I truly enjoy my job and know it is a step in the right direction for my future goals and am so thankful for the awesome opportunity to work in this division with the world's greatest boss!