Ryan’s Story: A New Lease on Life

Outdoor portrait of organ recipient Ryan

Life for Ryan and his family was a struggle. When he was born, he had an enlarged liver that caused many issues. It took nearly eighteen months for his family to get a conclusive diagnosis, but once they did, things didn’t get easier. Ryan had many dietary restrictions and spent much of his childhood in Duke Children’s Hospital. He missed out on many of the typical joys of life that many take for granted. For sixteen years, Ryan’s family had to get up throughout the night to administer medications. Finally in April of 2017, after an MRI, Ryan and his family were told that the only solution was a liver transplant. That June, he was officially listed and Ryan and his family began the wait for the call that would change their lives.

The call came sooner than expected. On August 8th, 2017, thanks to the heroic generosity of a donor, Ryan received a lifesaving liver transplant. Since the liver transplant, Ryan’s whole life has improved. He plays varsity golf at his high school and can walk the entire 18 holes. His energy level is 100% improved! Ryan was incredibly excited to snowboard over the 2019 MLK holiday. He attended camp last summer and is doing very well in school. Ryan is making plans to participate in the World Transplant Games being held August 2019. He is now able to go to the gym, workout, and lift weights. For the first time in his life, Ryan’s family can sleep through the night. Ryan is now able to spend the night at a friend’s house without having to worry about a medical crisis occurring. Ryan’s new liver has been a true miracle.

Ryan wrote a letter to his donor’s family which was emotional for him to do. He is so very grateful to this family. It is his hope that one day he will get to thank his donor’s family in person. Ryan wants them to know that their loved one’s liver not only saved his life, but game him a much better quality of life. He now can eat fruits and has a child-like excitement trying strawberries, blackberries, bananas, tomatoes, and apples. Ryan’s belly is no longer distended or enlarged. He can now wear regular sized pants and shirts. They may seem like little things, but for Ryan, they are daily reminders of how grateful he is to his donor and their family.