Brandon was just 28 when he went to the hospital for what he thought was severe indigestion. This visit ended up lasting 3 weeks and he was diagnosed with Polycythemia and Budd Chiari. These two rare diseases affected both his gallbladder as well as his liver and spleen.
Prior to this visit, Brandon had always been a pretty sleepy guy. He would sometimes come home from work and go straight to bed, sleeping right through until the next morning. As it turns out, this was a side effect of a buildup of ammonia in the blood causing extreme fatigue.
The years following diagnosis proved to be challenging for Brandon. As a father of 2, it was hard to miss out on major portions of his kid’s childhood with hospital visits, and bedrest. His youngest (age 9 now) was just one month old when he was diagnosed. When he was asked to draw a picture of his Daddy he drew a picture of him in bed and sick. This reality broke Brandon’s heart.
While Brandon waited for his transplant, he would experience peaks and valleys in his health. At one point, he was feeling really good and started to date again. It was during this time he met his current wife, Shi. On their second date he told her about his health challenges, to which she replied, “that doesn’t bother me” and “maybe that is why I am here, to help you through this”. It was then that he knew she was the one. Shi helped his health improve by keeping a medication schedule and making sure he made it to his doctor’s appointments. She truly was his saving grace during this whole process.
After 5 years on the waiting list, Brandon’s health took a turn for the worst. He decided to get listed at Indiana University Hospital to increase his odds of receiving the call. On his birthday and exactly 1 week after he was listed in Indiana, his prayers were answered. A selfless and heroic 42-year-old female fulfilled her last wish to help someone in need. In this case, it was a loving husband and a father of 2.
“If I could meet my donor’s family I would simply say…. “Thank You”. They changed my life completely. In fact, they gave me an new life altogether” says Brandon. Today he is an active father and can go on trips to the zoo and the children’s museum as well as spend time on the lake and enjoy life. Brandon even pressure washed and stained the deck at his house, which was a huge victory considering he has never had the energy to do these tasks before (and we are sure Shi is pretty happy about it too!).
Organ donation is truly a selfless and heroic act. If you are inspired by Brandon’s journey, and would like to help someone like Brandon someday; please consider joining the confidential registry at www.registerme.org or www.donatelifeky.org