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Matt's Story: a Three Organ Simultaneous Transplant and New Lease On Life

Today for our last story of National Donate Life Month, we're featuring the unique transplant story of Matt P., a recent double-lung and liver transplant recipient. Matt was the first ever bilateral lungs and liver transplant done simultaneously at the Mayo Clinic.  For Matt's whole story, check out his book on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Mayo-Miracle-altering-journey-beating/dp/17013956....

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My transplant story began in 2015, when I noticed some weakness and loss of strength.  After various scans, an X-ray and MRI, it was determined I had non-alcoholic cirrosis of the liver.  I then sought specialists where I was diagnosed with Alpha-1 (Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency), a genetic disease that agressively affects two vital organs, liver and lungs.   

The affects of the disease were slow and methodical initially, but became worse with time. I went to specialists to seek any treatment, but there was none, only organ replacement.  Things got progressively worse and the disease migrated to my lungs.  

In 2017, I went to Mayo Clinic to run the series of tests to qualify for being listed. They got me listed very shortly for both organs.  The visits at Mayo were every three months, for testing and blood work to meet UNOS requirements and remain on the lists.  My "wait" began in November 2018, and the transplant team decided that my disease and conditions worsened to the point where I needed to be admitted.  From then to early May, I waited for "the call" for 168 days.  

On May 6th, I got "the call." I was then quickly transported to surgery where a twelve-hour, first-time-ever bilateral lungs and liver organ replacement surgery was then put into motion.  After the twelve-hour surgery, I went to ICU and eventually to physical therapy in the span of a month, and was released from the hospital June 6th.  From then until July 24th I was monitored with numerous blood tests, lung function tests and physical therapy and released.

My feelings about my donor are bittersweet.  Bitter because we all know that someone has  died in order for his/her organs to be donated, and sweet knowing that those organs will give me a new lease on life.  It creates an empathy for the donor family for which I am eternally grateful.

It is too early for any accomplishment per se, since I was just transplanted only two and a half years ago, but I do have a new mission in life.  This journey has transformed me, and I am going to be an advocate for organ donation, assist Mayo Clinic in any way possible to spread this life altering event, help all others going through the fight of Alpha-1 or lung transplant. 

I foresee my everyday life will be better than that of prior to my disease and surgery.