2015. The New Year. None of that "New Year, New Me" nonsense for me. I have never been a New Year, New Me Resolutionist and I doubt that I ever will be. I did not resolve, in 2011, to lose weight, get in shape, and run a marathon. I said it. And then, with a little help from some friends, I did it.
In 2014 I said I was going to qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon. I hired Coach Jennifer Kimble with RunOn! to show me the way. I am a Project Management Professional and as such I set about my normal cycle of PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) with a Coach to provide the necessary expertise. She understands my goal is to run faster. And she gives me a Plan each week. I Do that plan. We Check the work done the week before, make adjustments for better or worse, and then I Act upon those changes with the new Plan. Repeat. Week after week. The goal is the motivation and I know that if I don't Do the work nobody else will. And it's working. Since teaming with Jennifer I have set new personal bests in every distance from the 5K to the marathon.
I have not yet ran that Boston Qualifying marathon. But, it's OK. Registration for Boston 2016 is in September of 2015. I have time. Sunday, January 18th I'll head south to Houston to run the 2015 Houston Marathon with Grant's Gang to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas. Will I run a Boston Qualifying marathon? Given the recent half marathon PR to model a marathon run, no. But, it's OK. I have time. But first...
After I run the Houston Marathon I am taking a few weeks off as a runner. Recently I learned that a co-worker has an autoimmune disorder that has destroyed the bile ducts in his liver. The only cure for him is a new liver. And recently I learned that we have the knowledge and ability to safely remove a portion of a liver from a live donor and transplant that portion into a person in need of a transplanted liver. The liver then grows to a full size, fully functional, normal liver in both the donor and the recipient. We have one of the top surgeons in the world, here at Baylor Medical Center, in the field of living liver transplants. I volunteered to go through the screening process to see if I am viable to donate to my co-worker and friend. First question, Blood Type? O. Perfect. Universal donor. Have you ever had any of the following (insert loooooonnnnngggggg list of medical problems)? No. How much do you drink? Are you taking illegal drugs? Do you consider yourself fit? Are you willing to undergo surgery, not microsurgical robotic arm surgery, but full surgery if you're healthy and you match? Yes. Ok, let's do this. I was interviewed by the transplant surgeon, the transplant advocate, a social worker, a non-involved surgeon, and a non-involved liver specialist (hepatologist). I had 16 vials of blood drawn and they were tested for every possible sign of a malfunctioning liver. I had a 90 minute hi-res MRI with two different contrasts to provide the surgical team every possible view of my liver and the big pulmonary vessel that feeds it. Is there sufficient healthy, non-fatty liver tissue to remove while leaving sufficient healthy, non-fatty liver tissue to function in my body while it re-grows to full size? Yes. Will that piece of liver fit well in the recipient's body? Yes. My liver is perfect. It's lean (especially for a formerly obese 50 year old man). It's healthy. And there's enough of it to share. Surgery is scheduled for Monday the 19th. My co-worker, my friend and I enter Baylor with 2 full size livers, one healthy and one unhealthy. We'll leave sharing a single liver and over the course of the next few months that single liver will grow into two full size, healthy livers. How amazing is our knowledge of the human body? How incredible IS the human body? So, for a few weeks I'll heal. Rest. Recover.
And then, I'll run. To qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon.
And I'll advocate to ensure everyone I come in contact with is a registered organ donor. There are thousands of people, like my friend, who need an organ. The waiting list is really long. And there are many who will die and be cremated or interred without first having these lifesaving organs removed to be transplanted. Please make sure you are registered. Donate Life has all the information you need to ensure you are registered in your state. It's not enough to check the box on your drivers license - you must register. And, equally as important, you must ensure that your next of kin are 100% aware of your intent to be a donor. And I'll tell my story. Not for praise or accolades. I am no hero. I'll tell my story in the hopes that one day, when the need presents itself, the knowledge of this process will encourage another to be a living organ donor - be it kidney or liver.
So, 2015... let's do this. The Unicorn awaits.