Faces of Liver Disease
Sharing your experience can provide hope and comfort to others in the liver community.
It is my honor to salute caregivers everywhere. I would like to personally thank my family, friends, transplant teams, doctors, nurses and support staff. But most importantly I would like to thank and give honor to God, my donor, and donor family. My name is Sophia Washington; I’m a 41 year old liver transplant recipient. My Journey began about five years ago. I went in for my annual physical and surprisingly, my blood work showed that my liver enzymes were elevated. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that was destroying my liver.
I was devastated upon hearing this news actually I was very afraid. I was referred to UOM Hospital; my doctor informed me he would give me medication to slow down the disease process. The medications work for two years after which the disease progressed and I had to be place on the transplant waiting list. I felt so hopeful and thankful that God had given me a second chance to live. Sure enough the transplant took place and everything went well. However, several days later I suffered problems. There was no blood flow through the hepatic artery which required additional surgery. The surgery didn’t work requiring me to once again be placed on the transplant list. After this problem occurred I received my second liver transplant shortly there after.
It has now been 2 years and 4 months since my second liver transplant I feel healthy and happy. I’m back to work part time I have been an educator for the past 11 years. I volunteer with an organ recovery agency in Michigan, the Gift of Life Michigan; I completed a video with the National Kidney Foundation, and recently became a volunteer with the American Liver Foundation. I enjoy volunteering my passion for education has given me the opportunity to help educate my community about organ donation and transplantation. Within the minority community we are at higher risk for diabetes and hypertension which are two leading causes of organ failure. Only through education and awareness can prevention be known. My face now adds one more voice to the importance of organ donation and the great benefit of transplantation.
Words could never express my gratitude for the people who cared for me thought-out my illness. It was at home during my recovery the healing process took place. I salute my mom for her commitment to help save my life. It was through her dedication and loyalty I can now smile again. She never left my bedside and upon returning home my recovery took her faith, prayer, kindness and love that only a mother could give a child. My mom put her life and health on hold to see me stand tall once again. I also salute my husband and caregivers everywhere. I thank you all for your time, care, concern and dedication shared during someone’s illness. My story is dedicated to all you angles who take time to care for transplant recipients the way my church, mom, husband, family, friends, doctors, transplant teams, and support staff took care of me. Special thanks to the American Liver Foundation for all the work they do. Especially the donors and supporters of the American Liver Foundation, that help in the fight of liver disease by giving.