My name is Yvette Matthews. This is my transplant story.
I went for my annual physical in 1998. My doctor told me that my liver enzymes were elevated, and I should follow up with my primary care doctor to see what was wrong. I felt fine. I was playing semi pro doubles volleyball on the beach and recreational team volleyball indoors.
I went to my primary care doctor to get it checked out. He did tests for a year and couldn’t find out what was wrong with my liver. He sent me to a hepatologist (liver specialist). The hepatologist ran numerous tests and could not find out what was wrong with me. He said he knew of only one other test to do called an ERCP. This test revealed that I had a rare liver disease call Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, or PSC for short.
There’s no cure…
My doctor told me that there was no cure for this disease except a liver transplant. He also said that I would die within 10 years if I didn’t get the transplant. This was in January of 2001, so when January of 2011 came and I was still alive, I thanked God for this good news.
I was put on the transplant list in August of 2006 and received the gift of life in the form of a liver transplant on February 4, 2013. I spent a month in the hospital and the day after I got home, I walked up to the corner of my block and came back home. I was exhausted. Each day I would add another block to my walk so that it got longer and longer. I started going to the rec center to work out with weights and do spin classes.
Amping up my activity
In 2014, I started participating in the Donate Life Transplant Games of America competition. I have competed in cycling and track and field events. I started out as a member of Team Colorado and am now a member of North Carolina Transplant Athletes, North Carolina’s state team. I’ve gone to the Transplant Games in Houston, TX, Cleveland, OH, and Salt Lake City, UT. I have a total of 23 medals from these games. Next year the games will be in the Meadowlands, NJ.
I have also participated in The World Transplant Games as a member of Team USA. These games were held in Malaga, Spain in 2017 and New Castle, England in 2019. Unfortunately, the 2021 Games, scheduled to be in Houston, TX, were canceled due to concerns about Covid-19. I have won 7 medals from the World Games, including two first-place medals that were world records in long jump and ball throw in New Castle!
It’s a blessing…
Every time I’ve gone to The Games has been a blessing for me. It’s great to be around so many positive people. At every Games, I walked around bewildered at the great and wonderful feelings of everyone I encounter. Everyone wants to tell me their story and no two stories are the same. I always feel so upbeat.
I thank God every day for receiving the gift of life. Even though I don’t know who my donor was I’m grateful to him or her every day for saving my life.
If you are an organ donor, I thank you. If you are not and would like to become an organ donor please sign up.
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If you would like to donate to help our team members get to The Meadowlands, please donate here.
If you’re interested in joining our team, or would like more information about NC Transplant Athletes, please email email@example.com or go here.
–Yvette Matthews, grateful liver recipient