Written by Lisa Barker, Liver Transplant Recipient
Photo: Reid & Lisa Barker
“We will be there in 7 minutes.”
Although I don’t remember much from the week of February 2, 2014, I do remember these last words on the care flight; little did I know of the big plans that God had for me that week - a miracle I'll never forget.
It all started on a cold February Sunday afternoon when I went in for a routine gallbladder removal… or so I thought. Following the surgery, my general surgeon mentioned that there was some concern with my liver. An MRI was performed and it was immediately discovered I had developed a rare liver condition, called Budd Chiari, caused by an undiagnosed blood disease - Polycythemia Vera. There are only one in a million people that develop Budd Chiari and it's a condition that ultimately leads to acute liver, kidney, and respiratory failure. Upon the discovery, I was immediately boarded onto a Care Flight going to Baylor Dallas where I would be put on continuous kidney dialysis.
Within a few hours the transplant board had met - it was decided that I needed to be put at the top of the transplant waiting list (which currently has over 123,000 total names on it).
25 Years Old with 48 Hours to Live
I remember hearing Taylor’s story on the news and being heart broken for the Storch family, but never in a million years would I have imagined that their situation would hit so close to home for me. It’s difficult to describe the feeling that comes with transplant surgeons giving you an estimated 48 hours to live. Holding fast to my faith, I prayed and trusted God to do His will - whatever that was.
Within 18 hours God had performed a miracle, providing a liver from a sweet 15 year old girl. I am so grateful that she left this world ‘outliving herself’ and that her family made the decision to say YES to donating her organs. The transplant was a success, and I am now a proud liver transplant survivor. The prescious gift of life she gave that snowy, February day is something I am indescribably grateful for - something I intend to respect and honor daily.
Through the Valleys
This experience has been one of the most difficult trials in my life, but I learned so much from the situation. Regardless of the comforts that we long for, the Bible says that we will face trials and we are not promised a pain free life on Earth. Looking at Job and his journey encouraged me greatly through my own painful season. Job endured much... and God allowed this. He allowed this because He had a great and perfect plan for Job’s life.
I find great comfort in Isaiah 64:8, “…we are all the work of your hand.” God molded me and knew that I would need a liver transplant at age 25. Regardless of what I believe or feel, my body is perfect to Him. While it isn't what I would have originally asked Him for, I have learned to thank Him for trusting me enough to have this deficiency - what an honor. I pray that if you're reading this, that you too would realize that God made you perfectly. No matter what deficiency or diseases you may have, you are perfect and you are loved.
When Nothing Makes Sense, Change Your Perspective
Everyone has different path set before them, and often we don't understand why God has us where we are - but I encourage you to trust Him with His plan, even (and especially) if you don’t understand it right now. His plan is always greater than anything we could ask, imagine, or plan ourselves. He has never been surprised by any circumstances that we undergo, nor will he ever be. He knows every detail of the the battle you face daily, and He is always there.
Sometimes nothing makes sense in life. Sometimes we look at our circumstances so close up that all we can see is the single puzzle piece we hold in our hands at that moment. But if we take a step back and think about the perspective of God, the King of the Universe, looking down at our puzzle in its entirety… He sees the bigger picture, He is helping to orchestrate all our pieces to fit together, and He truly knows best. There is hope. You have one piece of your puzzle, but God holds the entire puzzle and is piecing it together perfectly, day by day.
Through all of this, God has taught me to wake up everyday and to be thankful that He woke me up. I've realized that He's woken me up for a reason, and I am alive to make a difference in the world each day - even if it's something small, it all adds up. This brings me hope.
Give thanks as often as you possibly can; celebrate life, birthdays, and the little things; and enjoy your precious time with friends and family. Relationships are so important, invest in them! Always remember that everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you may know nothing about, so be kind always! I may look "normal" from the outside other than my scars, but my body is forever fighting a battle.
My prayer for you is that you will choose joy each day despite your circumstance. God is working on you, and through you - during this and every season of your life - so put your hope in Him. People are watching the way you will react to your big circumstances and your day-to-day struggles. I pray that people will see more of God in us and that His light will always be shining bright through us. God has trusted you with the journey you are on. I pray you draw near to Him and that you will glorify Him with your perfect story! I encourage each of you to become an organ donor. It truly makes a difference in the lives of others. Today, if you haven't already, choose to #OutliveYourself through registering to be an organ donor.
Watch the inspiring video that Lisa's husband Reid made to document their journey through her transplant.
"I want to be upfront from the very beginning. The PURPOSE of creating this video was to document all the miraculous works and answered prayers over the last four months and to bring glory to the God who worked it all according to His plan. This video contains pictures and videos documenting the struggles and triumphs of Lisa's life over the last 4 months. God was evident in the high times, and so clearly evident in the low times as well. We hope this video brings encouragement to you to cry out to God, to faithfully live your life to glorify Him no matter the circumstances and to hopefully inspire so many to become organ donors. A simple "yes" can save multiple lives. We are grateful that someone said yes for Lisa. God Bless-TEAM BARKER."
Check out other inspiring stories in the My Stories category!