In the middle of a global pandemic, a dental hygenist for the Quehanna Boot Camp in Pennsylvania is sitting in a hospital. No, she’s not there because she tested positive for COVID-19, she’s there because she was given the opportunity to save the life of a 32-year-old Army veteran, who is also a mom of two young children.
When Taylor Scida first decided to become a living donor, it was because her uncle was in need of a liver transplant. She had hoped that she was a match for him but that turned out to not be the case.
“My uncle’s battle with liver disease started roughly three years ago when he became quickly and severely ill around the holidays. After months of tests and doctor’s visits, he was finally approved to be put on the liver transplant list,” Scida told Mamas Uncut.
However, because the list uses Model for End-Staged Liver Disease, or MELD scores, to determine who will get a deceased donor’s liver when one becomes available, many potential recipients have to be incredibly sick to even make it to the top of the list. “That is if you do not succumb to this disease beforehand,” Scida explained.
“I started seriously looking into being a donor for my uncle about a year ago.”
So instead of just sitting down and hoping for the best for her uncle, Scida decided to take some action. “I started seriously looking into being a donor for my uncle about a year ago,” Scida explained to Mamas Uncut. “I reached out to the hospital he was initially registered with and was shot down immediately because my blood type was not a compatible match. Fast forward months later and my uncle registered through UPMC as well – to try and increase his odds of receiving a liver.”
According to its website, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center believes that “living donation is a first-line option for patients on the liver transplant waiting list. Living-donor liver transplants help to reduce time spent on the transplant waiting list and allow you to receive a transplant sooner, getting you back to enjoying life with your family and loved ones.”
It was after learning her uncle had also registered at UPMC that Scida reached out to them the same way she reached out to the first hospital. It was a move her family supported and encouraged. And this time their prayers were starting to get answered.
“By the grace of God, they gave me all the information I needed and told me that they not only do non-compatible liver transplants now, but they also have a whole team of professionals that look at all the patients who have living donors on their behalf and that they can match and swap donors for the best possible outcome. With this option, not only your loved one is saved, but you’re also helping so many other people suffering get their new life-sustaining organ. I was blown away, speechless, grateful and SO HOPEFUL.”
And so when Scida learned she was a match for someone who wasn’t her uncle she remained “incredibly grateful,” because one of the recipients she matched with also had a living donor in her corner; a living donor that matched her uncle.
Now, in the midst of a global health crisis, all four of them—the two living donors and the two recipients—are recovering from their surgeries. And they are all doing well.
“This was an opportunity of a lifetime for me to be able to do something like this. Situations like this are exactly what life is about, to be able to live life intentionally like this has been a huge blessing for me,” Scida said. “Words can’t even describe being able to do something like this for someone. I am overwhelmed, even still, with nothing but gratitude.”
“I felt so much love and admiration for this strong woman, who in my eyes, is the hero.”
When it comes to meeting the person whose life you are saving, it usually doesn’t happen until weeks or months after the donation was made, if at all. However, in Scida’s case, the surgeon who did their surgeries decided to sneak a letter written by the mother of two to Scida just three days after it was all said and done.
The letter brought “instant tears” to Scida’s eyes. “I felt so much love and admiration for this strong woman, who in my eyes, is the hero. I was moved that I was able to pay it forward to an incredibly deserving, kind, brave, and positive person. I just felt and am still feeling an overwhelming amount of emotions.” Scida says it has been a joy getting to know the Army vet and that they have already been planning the moment they are able to see each other in person for the first time.
“This whole journey has been nothing but a positive one,” Scida told Mamas Uncut. “Everyone wins in a situation like this. It’s enriching and life-changing for every person involved. I have a new appreciation for my body, for each and every day that I’m alive. Sure, I’ve always said those things, but now I feel it and believe it.”
And for those who are considering becoming a living donor, Scida says throw your fears to the side and “absolutely, 100%, do it.”
“If this is something that you have been considering and you are feeling called to do, face your fears and do it. Life is full of uncertainties and risks, but it can’t stop you from doing things that matter. For me, the bigger picture far outweighed any fears or anxieties that I had. I think that Ambrose Redmoon said it perfectly when he said, ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.'”
According to UPMC, each year about 14,000 people in the United States are in need of a liver transplant, and of those people, 25-percent die waiting. “The UPMC living donor program allows an opportunity for people suffering to step out of line and start living again,” Scida said. “These medical professionals are angles.”
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.
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