The Challenge: Cirrhosis of the Liver
Richard Olszewski has a passion for remodeling homes and even has his own business in Florida. In August 2020, it was business as usual for Rick as he was removing a few screws when one hit him in the eye. He was rushed to the hospital for surgery to remove the screw.
“I’m still considered blind in that eye to this day,” said Rick.
After the successful eye surgery, Rick was having trouble coming out of anesthesia. As that raised some concern, doctors performed an ultrasound where they discovered that Rick had cirrhosis of the liver.
“I was in total shock,” said Rick.
“I’ve never even drank a day in my life,” he added.
Because of Rick’s advanced diagnosis, doctors told him that he would need a liver transplant sooner rather than later, and they referred him to UPMC.
“My doctors told me that UPMC is one of the top-rated transplant centers in the country. Since I have family in Harrisburg, Pa, I went to be evaluated,” said Rick.
The Path to Living Donation at UPMC
When Rick arrived at the UPMC Harrisburg Liver Transplant Evaluation Clinic near his family’s home in Central PA, doctors began to discuss living donation as an option. For any residents located in Central PA, our local liver transplant evaluation clinic offers the internationally recognized expertise and experience of UPMC Transplant Services to patients just like Rick.
When he began to spread the word that he needed a liver transplant to family and friends, his sister, Ida, wanted to help.
“We were all very surprised because we thought that his eye just needed treated,” said Ida. “And I was a little nervous at first because I have children and a business to think about.”
Since living donor evaluations are conducted at UPMC Montefiore in Pittsburgh, Ida traveled from Harrisburg to be evaluated as Rick’s potential living donor. About two months later, Ida was approved as his living donor and the surgery was scheduled.
The Solution: A Sister Donates a Portion of Her Liver to Her Brother
Rick and Ida were transplanted in August 2021 and are doing well in their recoveries. A big part of this process for Rick was having a good support system.
“I had two main caretakers, one being my best friend for 25 years. They were so dedicated that it made me realize how close some people are to you,” said Rick. “The team at UPMC was also amazing from the beginning, and I thank them for everything.”
Rick is back in Florida continuing with his remodeling business as he just finished renovating two townhouses.
Ida returned to working out at the gym and takes frequent walks to stay healthy.
“Life after living donation is very manageable and I get to see my brother live a healthier life. Other than a little scar, I would not have even known I was a living donor,” said Ida.
“This was such a gratifying experience, and Rick and I are a lot closer than we were before the transplant. To see where he was and where he is today is everything to me.”
Rick and Ida’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.