Enjoying life through the miracle of transplantation

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Jack Axelrod, Recipient

Enjoying life through the miracle of transplantation

Posted May 26, 2011

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It hardly seems possible that almost 15 years have passed since my liver transplant in May, 1996. Since then I have become a grandpa four times over, each one as exciting as the one before. My wife, Carol, and I celebrated our 50th anniversary in June, 2007.

jackaxelrodMy quality of life certainly improved for the first 10 years, but then I developed kidney problems. In June, 2006, I started a dialysis regime three times per week. I have been hospitalized numerous times for various problems, but always seem to bounce back.

My three sons and their families live in St. Louis, and that really keeps me going. They are at our home often, and we spend all holidays and birthdays together. Our two granddaughters and two grandsons are very close and always enjoy their time with Grandpa, Grandma, their cousins and aunts and uncles.

Transplantation truly is a miracle and being able to write this after 15 years is proof.

A life changed through donation

Submited October 1998

This is a letter that I have wanted to write for the last several months.

My name is Jack, and I received a liver transplant in May 1996.

I live in Missouri and had been an accountant and business consultant. I have had to re-learn many things in my profession and have, once again, started to participate in the work community.

My wife and I have been married more than 41 years and have three sons and three daughters-in-law. One of our sons was married at the time of my transplant and the other two were married shortly after. One of our daighters-in-law is expecting our first grandchild this month.

My interests before transplant were in business, sports, religion, and family activities. We also enjoyed an active social life and donated time and money to charities.

When my liver problem progressed, I had to cut back on my work time, but increased the time I was able to spend working on charity projects with minority business people, senior citizens, and health claimants.

I was diagnosed with my liver problem in February 1992, and it progressively became worse. In 1995, I began to have blackout spells. In January 1996, I went through the final phase of being placed on the transplant list. In February 1996, I was removed from the list as my medical condition was such that it was not known if a transplant would significantly increase my quality of life.

Within two weeks of this decision, I became ill enough that the decision was made to place me back on the list. At this point, I was unable to work or to have any quality of life. I slept and ate in a small bedroom, unable to drive or to do much of anything.

In May 1996, I was called at home and told to report to the hospital. I would have a transplant within the next eight hours. It was midnight when I was admitted to the hospital.

I remember very little else. I was in a coma for 29 days, a semicoma for 14 more days, and finally began to become better. In another 14 days, I was well enough to be sent to another area of the hospital for physical rehabilitation. I was there for two weeks and except for a few problems that occur and having been back into the hospital a few times a year, I am improving.

In order to relearn what I had forgotten in my profession, I managed to do volunteer work for lawyers and accountants. These professionals do the bulk of their work representing clients against the IRS or who have “minority” problems.

There is no question that the transplant has not only changed my life but the lives of my family. My 62nd birthday has come and gone, the anticipation of our first grandchild is excitedly thought about and all this because of my firm belief that God had to be looking out for me.

No one is an island. I have found through this “transplant experience” that it does indeed take a caring group of people to assist you through a successful transplant. You must have family support. A transplant recipient simply is unable to recover without the support of his/her family, friends, and medical staff. My wife has been my rock. My children have performed the chores I needed to do at home. The medical professionals have trained me to take the medications that I need on time and are in constant communication with me. My friends with their support of “being there” when a minor problem arises, and, of course, Mid-America Transplant Services who, if did not exist, there would be chaos in the transplant field.

I anticipate a marvelous future … family friends, grandchildren, work, charity work, religion, and the desire to do something for my community.

Words alone cannot express my heartfelt thanks for the Gift of Life I received from a donor.

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