McDowell County woman in search of liver donor

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 4:11 PM EDT
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MCDOWELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WVVA) - Due to health issues, 53-year-old Melissa Evans of Jolo found out when she was 16 she would need a liver transplant. In 2018, that time came when she was diagnosed with liver disease. Her diagnosis is the result of congenital hepatic fibrosis which is the abnormal formation of the bile ducts in the liver.

“I think I’m glad I’m older now because at sixteen if they would have told me that it would have probably scared me to death which it scares me to death now don’t get me wrong but as you get older you learn that things are going to come your way,” said Evans.

Evans is currently on a living and deceased donor list. Each day she battles health issues including a swollen abdomen, nausea and weakness. Some days she can’t make it to work. One of Evans’ doctors says she has between six months and a year to get a donor.

“If the transplant is not offered at the right time. Time is of the essence like I said it could be their window and if you lose the window of opportunity the patients can not only decompensate and not only succumb to their disease or they can get too sick on the wait list before they can get the transplant,” said Dr. Swaytha Ganesh, the Medical Director for the Living Donor Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Dr. Ganesh says not just anyone can be a liver donor. They have to be healthy and be between the ages of 18 and 60.

“We want to give the best chance for the donor to completely regenerate their liver and go back to a full healthy life. For that reason we usually utilize healthy donors and also for the recipients. Imagine a liver coming from someone who has a healthy liver without much fat then they’re regenerative capacity even in the recipient is also much higher,” said Dr. Ganesh.

Evans says she just wants her old life back.

“I just want to be here for my kids and my grandkids as long as I can. There’s not a mother or grandmother out there that doesn’t want that,” said Evans.

Evans says she has asked about having her sons be donors however one is diabetic and the other would have to be her primary caretaker in the event of a liver donation. Dr. Ganesh says it would be hard to take care of Evans while her son is recovering.

If you would like to register to be a liver donor for Evans you can click the link here.

To learn more about being a living donor you can click the link here.