Sandy Benedetti, Liver Recipient

I was diagnosed with Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC), an autoimmune disease of unknown origin, when I was 36 years old. The doctor discovered it while doing routine labs. Sixteen years later, in 2004, the morning after my birthday party, I was rushed to the hospital, and given an hour to live.

I had a ruptured blood vessel in my esophogus and I had lost a third of my blood. After surviving this episode, I told I needed a new liver, and needed to be added to the national waitlist. After a grueling few months of testing I was on the list by October 2004.On March 6, 2005, a young man named Evan died tragically while skateboarding in Ashland, Oregon. His family fought to get him to the hospital in Portland. Once they knew Evan would not survive, Evan’s mother fought to donate his organs so her son would live on in others.

Sandy Benedetti
Photo: Sandy Benedetti (right)
with Evan Burke’s parents
Jim and Lucile

I was at work on March 7, 2005. After putting in over seven hours at work, I went home and was very tired and just wanted to go to bed when I got a call that there was possibly a liver available for me. I was told there was some damage to the liver and asked would I be interested? I wasn’t sure. I asked my doctor, “What would you do if it were you?” He paused for a second and said, “I think I would take the liver.” I received my new liver at midnight on March 8, 2005.

Dr. Levy later told me this liver was a perfect match and he was right. I just celebrated my 6 year “Liverversary.” I met Lucille and Jim Burke about a year after my transplant. It was such a wonderful, sad meeting. They are amazing people. Because of Evan and his parents, Evan was able to help over 100 people. He is truly my Guardian Angel.