Patient Stories

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Dave Eggers' Story

My family and I entered the huge and complex world of transplantation in January 1989 when the physicians at an Air Force hospital told my wife and me that what they first thought was a deadly cancer in my liver really was a disease that adversely affects the bile ducts called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC).

We were elated with the news until Byers Shaw, MD, and his team at the Nebraska Medical Center told us that without a liver transplant I would most certainly die.

"Die?" I said. "How could that be?" I obviously knew very little about transplantation, so in my ignorance and motivation to keep current as a B-1B, B-52 and potential B-2 instructor pilot in the Air Force, I said, "Fine, then get me a new liver and I should be good to go, right?" Not hardly. Dr. Shaw explained to us all the varied aspects of transplantation, like how people get placed on the waiting list, receive a new liver if they're lucky and about the post-operative challenges my family and I would face.

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Heather Tillotson's Story

At the age of four I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes, which meant lifestyle changes that affected not only me but my entire family. Injections, a strict diet and timely meals were just a few of the changes that would become a way of life for all of us. Being selected the 1986-87 Poster Child for the American Diabetes Association was an honor. Despite diabetes, I led a near-normal life growing up - thriving in school, taking part in sports and extracurricular activities, graduating from college with a degree in elementary education and a coaching endorsement, landing my dream job and marrying a wonderful, supportive man.

Eventually, I began experiencing problems often associated with diabetes - laser surgery on my eyes, neuropathy in my feet, gastroparesis, coronary artery disease and kidney failure. Doctors' visits and sick days became more frequent. Words cannot describe how I felt when informed of my declining kidney function and the possibility of dialysis. How could I teach and be on dialysis? Options were discussed and, at the suggestion of my physician, an appointment was made at The University of Nebraska Medical Center to be evaluated for placement on the National Registry for Organ Transplant.

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Logan Thomas' Story

Logan Thomas did not have a normal start to life. However, looking at the vibrant three-year-old today, you would never know of her early struggles. After birth, Logan was diagnosed with Hirschprung's disease. Hirschsprung's affects the nerve cells in the large intestine and causes the bowel to work improperly. The disease occurs in only one out of 5,000 births.

"I knew something was immediately wrong," said Rebecca Thomas, Logan's mother. "Logan would not eat well and was also throwing up bile."

Logan spent her first two years of life in and out of a hospital in Florida. She had many tests and surgeries to correct her diseased bowel. Her condition also required that she be fed 24/7 via a gastrostomy tube and a second central line for Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN).

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Ruth Gerdes' Story

Possibilities are more than hope. They led me to help, healing and healthy living.

It is possible to a find a primary care physician who will diagnose a carcinoid cancer patient in 10 days. Ninety percent of all carcinoid patients go years with the wrong diagnosis.

It is possible for a primary care physician to challenge a radiologist on a computed tomography (CT) scan, even though it had been read as clear the week before. Without this re-examination, it is likely that the patient would not have been a candidate for revolutionary surgery.

It is possible for a primary care physician to do hours of research in conjunction with a patient so together they can determine the best treatment option for the patient.

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Fred Bishop's Story

I had a kidney transplant in November 1994. Eight years earlier, at the height of health in my life, I was diagnosed with a renal problem that was supposed to take 20 years or so to deteriorate to the point of transplant. In September 1994, my renal function was around 8 percent. At that point, I was a deputy sheriff with a wife and two children.

The staff at Nebraska Medicine did an excellent job laying out my options. My wife and I decided on transplant. We informed our families about our decision and left my medical records open to them. One family member stepped up immediately and researched the problem, along with the possibility of being a donor. Less than two months went by. We were matched and decided on the first available date for surgery. It happened to be Nov. 9, the day between my mother's and father's birthdays. Now they send me a card on that day, my re-birthday. Two lives were saved that day, mine and my father's. You see when he underwent pre-surgery testing, they found an aneurysm on his renal artery. During the transplant, doctors were able to harvest his kidney and take care of the aneurysm. Along with two lives being saved, a third was created. My new kidney cleaned up my system so well that we were finally, after eight years of trying, able to conceive our third child.

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Kim Lombardi's Story

Kim Lombardi shouldn't be alive to read this. Doctors told him many times there was no hope. If his failing heart didn't kill him, the aneurysm ballooning from his ascending aorta would soon burst and that, certainly, would put him in a grave.

Lombardi didn't listen. Like a soldier who faced impossible odds but still had one bullet left in his pistol, he refused to surrender.

On Aug.18, 2006, Lombardi underwent a heart transplant at Nebraska Medicine. Today, he has his life back and loves to tell his story of faith and perseverance.

"Is my life different? Sure it is," he said. "I'm a diabetic induced by the medication, but after what I've been through, I can deal with that. I've got a new heart. I feel like I'm 30 years old."

Lombardi suffered his first heart attack in 1994. He had been laid off after 18 years at his job. His first marriage was coming to an end. Then, his 16-year-old son was killed in an auto accident. He smoked. He didn't exercise. He ate all the wrong foods. He slept three or four hours a night.

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Nolan Miller's Story

All babies spit up.

That's what Nolan Miller's parents thought after they brought him home Sept. 20, 2003, two days after he was born. But Nolan wasn't just spitting up a little milk. Nolan was vomiting. Constantly. Then he stopped having bowel movements.

"He took a bottle and it all came right back up," said Nolan's father, Matthew. "Then it kept coming."

A systems engineer for Methodist Hospital, Matthew telephoned a local hospital. The service's on-call pediatrician advised that he and his wife, Amy, take Nolan to the emergency room. Still vomiting after they arrived, Nolan was kept in the emergency room while physicians conducted a series of tests.

"That was one of the longest nights in our lives," Matthew said.

Nolan was admitted and the battery of tests continued, yet still no cause was found. Various diagnoses were considered but none was a clear-cut answer. Nolan was placed in full isolation at the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Two days and more tests passed and still no answer.

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