The Challenge: Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
Jeremy Monteverde has always been close with his family, especially his mom Kathy.
So, when Kathy needed a liver transplant and he learned that he could save her life, he didn’t think twice. He was ready to help.
In June 2014, Kathy began feeling very tired and lethargic at work so she made an appointment with her primary care physician.
After a series of tests, her doctor found scar tissue had begun to develop on Kathy’s liver. She had nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
NASH is a serious disease that causes inflammation and damage to the liver due to a buildup of fat. Over time, the damage to the liver can get worse and lead to cirrhosis.
The Path to UPMC's Liver Transplant Program
In late 2014, hepatologists at the UPMC Center for Liver Diseases were treating Kathy.
After an extended stay in the hospital, she received devastating news. The disease had progressed and caused so much liver damage that she would need a liver transplant to survive.
“At the time we did not realize how sick she really was,” says Jeremy. “She had been in and out of hospital for a while but everything came on so quickly that we didn't realize how sick she was until it was almost too late.”
Shortly after, Kathy got on the liver transplant waiting list. But, with 15,000 people on this list, she didn't have much hope.
“It was unlikely that I would get a deceased donor liver in enough time. If I was lucky, I thought I would have about one year to live,” says Kathy.
The Solution: A Living Donor Transplant
But, Kathy’s family was not about to give up.
Desperate to save his mother’s life, Jeremy had been researching living-donor liver transplants. He decided to have tests to see if he was a possible donor. Luckily, he was a perfect match.
“She was in the hospital. She was not getting any better. And she was not high enough on the transplant list, so obviously I was going to do whatever I could to help her,” Jeremy says.
During a living-donor liver transplant, a living person has a piece of their healthy liver removed and transplanted into another person to replace their unhealthy liver. These transplants are possible because of the liver’s unique ability to regenerate, or regrow.
With the support of their entire family and the liver transplant team at UPMC, Kathy and Jeremy had a living-donor liver transplant on September 8, 2015.
The Results: Dancing with Jeremy at His Wedding
Today, Kathy and Jeremy have both recovered from their living-donor transplants and are doing well.
Jeremy was back to work — and even got back to lifting weights and working out — just a few months later.
“I joke with my mom all the time that I did the least amount of work out of anybody,” says Jeremy. “But honestly, I just could not imagine not helping her and I knew that she would do the same for me.”
A few months later, Jeremy and Kathy celebrated a very special day — a day that Kathy never thought she would live to see.
“I was able to watch Jeremy get married and even dance with him at the wedding,” says Kathy. “It was so surreal and just amazing to be there. I didn’t think that I would be there for that part of his life so it was just unbelievable.”
Thanks to Jeremy and the rest of their family, Kathy received a second chance at life.
Kathy and Jeremy are both extremely grateful for the care and support they got from the entire transplant team. They both agree that they can’t thank everyone enough for helping them through this journey.
They also believe that more people need to be aware of living-donor transplants and what it really means to be a donor.
Learn more about becoming a living organ donor, like Jeremy.
Kathy and Jeremy’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.
Learn More About Functions and Implications of the Liver
UPMC HealthBeat Blog:
- Can You Live Without Your Liver?
- What Does the Liver Do for the Body?
- Life After Becoming a Living Liver Donor
UPMC Health Library: