My name is Katrinia and four years ago, I received the greatest gift in the form of a new liver.
I have always been an athlete and taken care of myself, so I was shocked when I was diagnosed with Autoimmune Hepatitis during my annual exam and trip to the dermatologist. A biopsy then revealed that my liver had already declined to Stage 4 cirrhosis. Medication helped keep things in check for a while but after a few years, I got the worst call I have ever received. My doctor told me my cirrhosis had advanced to liver cancer.
I was on the transplant waiting list for six months, while receiving cancer treatment, working full time and with my 10-month old son by my side. On a Tuesday evening in February, while making lunches for the next work and school day, I got the BEST call I had ever received. They had a liver for me!
My blood type is B+ so I decided to make that my attitude as well. The staff at St. Luke’s Hospital could not have been more wonderful! They even let my son stay with me until the very last minute when I was wheeled into the operating room. I remember waking up from surgery and immediately feeling better.
Receiving a transplant has so many mixed emotions involved. I literally was ecstatic at my second chance, but the entire time, I knew another family was experiencing a great loss. My donor was a young male and I have sent letters and pictures, but have not yet heard back from his family. My number one wish is to meet this selfless family and thank them personally. I think of them every single day that I am able to spend with my family, especially my young son, Thomas. I get emotional, even typing this story.
I don’t know how to thank someone for something so valuable and wonderful. My son would not have a mother if it were not for my donor. I am still very active, going to Cross-fit and coaching my son in soccer and t-ball. In July 2014, I participated in the Transplant Games in Houston for the first time. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this event. I loved meeting all the donor families, to be able to thank them and show them how full of life the recipients are! It was such an emotional journey and I made friends from all over the country that I am looking forward to seeing again at this year’s Games in Cleveland, OH.
I want the world to know that I am living life to the fullest! Transplant recipients are just like anyone else, except for needing a few precautions. I am now a Registered Nurse, taking care of pediatric patients. My experience really put a desire in my heart to care for others and treat them in a loving manner. I honestly wake up each day with a grateful heart and share my story with anyone that will listen to encourage others to become organ donors. It truly is the greatest gift you can give someone.
Please consider becoming an organ donor, you not only change one person’s life, but the life of her family and friends.
Katrinia Bennet – Liver Transplant Recipient
Team Texas, Transplant Games Participant, 2016