Mother’s Day has special meaning for local transplant recipientBy Emily Etheredge Published 2:33pm Friday, May 10, 2013
Brothers Dan, Derek and David Wright will celebrate Mother’s Day this year thankful for a miracle that kept their mom, Debbie, 56, alive and able to celebrate the day with her children.
“Last year at this time she was very sick and it was a constant battle every day to keep her going,” Dan Wright said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen with her.”
After a tumultuous journey with health problems that first started when Debbie was a toddler, she had thyroid issues that required routine doctor visits ultimately leading to high liver enzymes.
In 1998, a series of tests sent Debbie to the Kirkland Clinic where she was diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis of the liver.
Although Debbie said most people assume cirrhosis of the liver equates to someone who consumes large amounts of alcohol, she didn’t drink or smoke and doctors were not able to provide an answer for her liver problems.
“I was just sick and they didn’t know why,” Debbie said.
In August 2011, Debbie went through a series of tests to evaluate her for a liver transplant and was put on the transplant list after being told she would have to wait for about six months.
In the meantime, her condition started to deteriorate after retaining fluid in her abdomen, legs and feet, requiring a wheelchair and finding someone to care for her while her husband, Danny, worked during the day.
On the morning of Aug. 9, 2012, Debbie fell in her home resulting in her being transported to UAB Hospital in Birmingham.
Once at the hospital, doctors informed Debbie that her kidneys were failing and she was on the top of the transplant list for her blood type.
Danny said he went home that afternoon after learning of Debbie’s condition and heard a song being played with the words, “by this time tomorrow.”
“The next day I received a call from the liver transplant office telling me they had a liver for Debbie and surgery would be late that afternoon,” Danny said. “I made a lot of phone calls to pass along the great news and then went to the hospital.”