Written by Noah Swanson, a Liver Transplant Recipient
It was several years before I realized where the shadow was coming from. Until then, I feared a strange man with a large nose lurked somewhere in my basement waiting to jump out from around the corner. I still remember the dread I experienced every time I walked down the stairs that led to the basement in the house I grew up. The way the light came through the window caused a peculiar shadow to be displayed against the wall.
My wild imagination didn’t help, and each time I reached the bottom of the stairs I was greeted by a shadow that resembled a man with a very large nose. Just like everyone else, I’ve faced many fears and uncertainties throughout life. I recall the fear I experienced as a kid starting in a new school or the uncertainty of choosing what college to attend. But throughout my liver transplant journey, fear and uncertainty came in many types and sizes. When left unchecked, fear and uncertainty come together to create a terrible monster in our lives.
My fears ultimately subsided when I relinquished control and gave the situation over to God. He provided peace, established through prayer, scripture, and often the comfort of a family member or friend.
My liver transplant story began the summer before I entered high school. I came down with a cough that wouldn’t seem to go away. As weeks turned into months, my sickness didn’t improve. In spite of my objection, my mother decided it was time to see the doctor. As I walked into the clinic, I assumed I would be walking back out with a prescription to cure my cold. However, as the doctor began to run his diagnostics he soon discovered something more serious than a cold. An x-ray of my chest revealed pneumonia. However, my blood work uncovered further issues that my doctor was unable to diagnose. Instead of cough medicine, I left that day with unanswered questions and a referral to a specialist.
After seeing specialist after specialist unable to diagnose my sickness, I began to feel like I was trapped in a terrible dream. In a matter of days I had gone from never stepping foot in a doctor’s office to taking a citywide tour of every hospital in the area as we searched for answers. After being transferred from one doctor to another, I was finally diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis at the age of fourteen.
The next two years consisted of countless tests, procedures and a good amount of time spent within the walls of multiple hospitals. I often balanced between fear and frustration. The formidable years of high school were being jaded by sickness that had come out of nowhere.
After going through the process of being placed on the organ donor list twice, an incredible answer to prayer brought my liver transplant sooner than expected.
My father passed away from the same genetic disorder that had befallen me. Throughout my journey, I often wondered if the same fate that overcame him would overcome me as well. Life has its fair share of uncertainty. Uncertainty can be unnerving. But some of the experiences in organ transplant, and life in general, don’t have to be completely uncertain. Another way that my fears were conquered was through shedding light on the specific fear-inducing subject. There are people who’ve gone through similar events to what you are currently experiencing. And no matter what you’re going through, there is most likely a book that can help educate you on the topic so you’re more prepared for what lies ahead.
As a child, I feared the basement until my older brother revealed the shadow was nothing more than the light coming across the furniture creating a strange silhouette. Don’t remain in the dark about the uncertainty you can shed light upon. And don’t allow your fears to grow into a monster. Address your concerns; educate yourself on the uncertainties of life; and talk about the fears that befall you.
To read more about my story visit www.atransplantedlife.com.
Noah Swanson received his liver transplant over ten years ago at the age of sixteen. He has a background in product development that led him into a two-year organ transplant research project. This project indirectly fueled his desire to share the story behind his own organ transplant journey. A Transplanted Life: My Story and Guide on Transplant Successtells the story of Noah’s personal experience of a liver transplant and also provides practical advice for patients and parents going through a similar experience.
He now lives in Iowa with his wife, Kara, and their two daughters, London and Iylee.
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