It Happened To Us

``You need a liver transplant, or you will die``

We are three sisters – Amy, Kristin, and Heather – close in all ways but for geography.  Kristin was a happily middle-aged Texas mom of two teen sons, with no troubling health history.  She started to have some symptoms which looked to us something like low blood sugar-type issues, and later a severe ulcer.  We soon learned she had end stage liver disease and would die without a transplant.  She then started to have gall bladder problems. Very fixable for a healthy person. Potentially deadly for a liver patient. But gall bladder problems, no matter how serious, wouldn’t move her up the transplant list.  The miracle of living organ donation gave us a way forward. Heather, in New England, qualified as a donor.  Whew.  We were extraordinarily lucky.  We had money to fly around the country to explore options. Heather had the ability to take time off of work for testing, surgery and recovery.  And to stay in Kristin’s home, with Kristin’s sons, half way cross country.  Heather had an amazingly supportive work environment which let her focus on donating, healing and visiting Kristin daily until she came home, too.  Kristin had great insurance.  Amy was a rock.  Our Mother as well.  Good fortunes every way we turned.  Today, we are healthy.  When you find yourself in unthinkable places, talking about unthinkable things like removing vital organs from your body, life has a way of making you sit back and consider everything you have, and everything you have to be grateful for.  In our family’s tragic and scary circumstance, we were reminded how fortunate we are.  Live On Organ Donation is our way to pass some of that good fortune – and some economic relief – to others.

Our story is, of course, our story.  And everyone’s story is different.  Your decisions about transplant have to be based on your circumstance, facts you identify after lots of research, and counsel from your medical team.

Us
The Hunts

Thanks to living organ transplant, our plan to be cool old ladies carries on.  We’re grateful for that.  So is our mother Claire, a no-nonsense New England yankee who tries to stare down problems.  Somewhere, our father  and brother, both Bill, who both died too young from heart disease, helped us through too. Kristin’s awesome teenage sons never had a doubt that she would get back to health. And that their daily dialogue would get back to reminders that the floor is not a closet and soda is not a breakfast food.  The mundane moments in life can be the glorious ones.  We’re so thankful to have more of those.

The Sisters

Amy 

Bostonion. Writer extraordinaire. One of those way with words people, only better.  The sister who from time to time did all are homework.  And got us very good grades.  Built a business. Sold a business. Then bought a red convertible and summered on Cape Cod to mark her 40th birthday.  A decade later, has a toddler seat in a station wagon.  Lobbied effectively for marriage equity in Massachusetts by showing real people looking to lead the simple lives they grew up knowing and the ordinary families who wanted that for them too.  Amy’s films about families and what they mean chokes a person up. Drinks only french pressed coffee. Won’t touch a bean, or a raspberry due to their fur.  She’s serious about that.

Kristin

Mom of two teenage boys.  They are incredibly different in every way and most awesome humans.  This speaks to her mom-capacity.  A very nice, non-aggressive person by nature, but if one of her kids has a problem, stand back. Friend-maker.  Perhaps because she is non-judgy and funny.  For that reason, her friends have long been something her sisters borrow from time to time.  When she worked at a law firm, she was the kind of employee who was willing to tell senior partners the hard stuff noone else would but do it in a way that left them thanking her.  Moved to Texas lots of years ago. Still melts in the heat and likes that crisp New England fall.  Organizational skills to beat the band: no event is too big to plan or control.  As a kid, Kristin was delicate.  Tall and thin, with perpetually pretty long hair, and the one who was Most Likely To Be Injured In Kickball.  She destroyed that delicate image during her liver transplant experience. She is the Toughest Cookie.  The only thing that made her cry during the entire ordeal was being told she needed to give herself a little tiny shot every day when she went home. That made everyone laugh until we cried.  Played the piano for the high school choir.  Still can. If she won the mega-lottery, one action item might be to close down all the gum factories so that we in this civilized society need not listen to all that noise emanating from others’ mouths.  Rescued a cute little dog to celebrate her 5oth Birthday.

make it thru

Heather 

It’s all about the dogs. Big ones. Little ones. Blind ones, who see with their hearts.  Lawyer, but not really.  Nothing makes her brain happier than decorating.  As a kid, was an average swimmer but loved it more than anything. Every day, all year.  Side benefit of all that exercise: could beat almost any junior high boy in arm wrestling.  Never learned to parallel park so cut a deal: if they’d give the license that day, she would never parallel park.  She got the license and kept the promise.  Life long challenge: managing laughing fits in inappropriate places.  Like, say, in answering questions about her medical history, in recovery after her liver biopsy, or during her sister’s hospital discharge instructions.  A highly, deeply inappropriate laugh-er.

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