Brenda Niblock, Liver Recipient

In 2003, I received the biggest surprise of my life. I was diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, or PSC, a terminal liver disease. The cause is unknown, it results in cirrhosis, and the only cure is a liver transplant. I felt fine at the time of diagnosis, but three years later, I became very ill and required hospitalization. Soon after, a liver biopsy revealed end-stage cirrhosis. The reply to every social invitation was “definitely maybe” because my husband Tom and I never knew if I would be too ill to attend. For the next 1 1/2 years, our lives were on hold.

On May 10, 2007, I received my liver transplant. Now I’m rounding the corner of my 4th transplant anniversary, and fast approaching my 36th wedding anniversary with Tom. I feel great, and I’m able to do everything I could do before my transplant. But what I really value are the things that can’t be measured. Tom and I grew closer together in our marriage. My sisters and I have grown closer together, strengthened so we can be advocates for our mother, who is in the late stages of dementia.

In fall, 2010, I had the privilege of meeting my liver donor’s family and learning about my donor, Monica, who died from a brain aneurism. Her kidneys saved two other lives. When our families met, we celebrated the lives Monica saved. I shared my passion for speaking to young people about the importance of registering as organ donors. A fellow liver recipient and I now facilitate a liver transplant support group for pre- and post-transplant patients in the Portland area. I couldn’t be more blessed, and every morning, I’m thankful for yet another day to live.