Friday, November 22, 2019

Thanksgiving week transplant saga: another life saved at Scripps


Emotions run high as a donor is wheeled Tuesday to surgery, to cheers
balloons, whistles and applause from Scripps staffers.
 (patient's face is blurred to respect his privacy. )



and CM
Checking the donate box on your driver's
license could make a difference to someone. 

WE THANK the gods every day that we are on the planet. This week's prelude to Thanksgiving offered another reason to count our blessings: an excellent check-up for Keller, 30 months post-transplant.  Ours wasn't the only good news.  On the day of our MRIs, CTs, bloodwork and doctor visits, another life was saved because of organ donation.  We witnessed a small part of the miracle as the donor was wheeled down the hall to the transplantation theater to give a kidney to his ailing sister.
For me, organ donation plays a moving part in my personal scenario.  Both my late husbands were organ donors. It comforted me after their passings that parts of them were helping others live.  That my third partner's life was saved by a generous donor touches my heart, a full circle pleasure.So as Keller and I waited between tests and meetings, we revelled in a heartwarming scene at Scripps Green, "our" hospital, known for its cutting edge, compassionate, highly regarded transplantation program.
WE WERE MISTY eyed as the young donor was wheeled into the operating room, to cheers and fanfare of "the team" -- doctors, nurses, physicians' assistants, schedulers, receptionists -- that wonderful group of people we've come to know in our five years of "Scripps" loyalty. Both donor and his sister had successfully navigated weeks of testing so the surgery was a go.
Week of the transplant, click here

 Andrew Ruoff of Scripps Green is
a dedicated transplant team nurse.

Bruce Keller's chief transplant surgeon Dr. Jonathan Fisher
is happy with his patient's progress these 30 months.
That act of generosity is called a living organ donation.  It means that some healthy person donates one of his kidneys or a portion of his liver to a loved one, a friend or someone in need.WE WERE LUCKY.  We worked our way up the transplant list, over 18 long months.  One's status on the list is the result of a complicated formula based on many factors. The wait was difficult but we still traveled, keeping close to home as we climbed the list. On May 13, 2017, at 10 p.m., we were called.  Scripps had a donor. We were among three possible recipients called in; ours was the best match. In the early hours of May 14, "we" were transplanted.  Many are not so fortunate.
Rocky, happy first weeks, click here
 Doctors and PAs at Scripps have
the latest information on the
evolving transplantation field.

Today, more than 110,000 people are awaiting a lifesaving organ transplant in the U.S., a fifth of them in California's transplant centers. One in three people on the list will die due to organ shortage. Our state is in the vanguard of transplantation, which makes the fact that we live 10 minutes from Scripps even more extraordinary.  We've met people through my support group who move to San Diego to be near its fine doctors and modern, welcoming facilities.
OFTEN TRANSPLANT candidates wait years for an organ from a deceased donor while others don't live long enough to receive a transplant. Still others are removed from the list because they become too ill to undergo transplant. More than 20,000, or twenty per cent of the national total, are listed at California transplant centers.  One in three of those waiting will die because of organ shortage. One of every 380 people is on a kidney transplant list.
Bruce Keller and his hepatologist, internationally known Dr. Catherine
Frenette are happy with his results this week for his three-month exams.
Adjusting to transplant, click here
IF YOU WANT to help, do check the donor box on your driver's license.  And consider another way to help patients waiting for an organ. Scripps and other institutions offer a "living kidney donor program" allowing friends, family and those who wish to be anonymous to donate, sparing someone a long, uncertain wait for a deceased donor. 
Hours after surgery, Keller rests
in Scripps Green ICU. He was out
in a remarkable two days.

Only about 5,000 deceased-donor livers are available for transplant for 14,000-plus U.S. residents waiting.  When a patient such as Keller receives a transplant, his entire liver is removed, then replaced by the donated liver.  "Living liver" donor programs exist as the only option  if a patient is too ill to wait for a deceased donor transplant.
Now 30 months post-transplant, Bruce Keller and
Christene "Cookie" Meyers are a nationally known
travel writing/photography team, exploring the world. 
ONE OF OUR favorite nurses gave part of his liver to his mother. The "living liver" surgery removes part of the donor's healthy liver and uses that to replace the recipient's diseased liver.  Both donor and recipient livers grow to normal size, just as Keller's liver has adjusted.
Tears, anxiety and questions are part of the emotional transplant roller coaster. As our award-winning, compassionate Scripps hepatologist says, "We don't deny emotion, we embrace it, and integrate it into the process.'' We tip our hat to transplantation and the Scripps team for giving us that most precious commodity, time. For more information:
Soap star Eric Martsolf is a charismatic emcee in Welk
Resort Theatre's "Welkome Home for the Holidays,"
a lively and clever song-and-dance revue.;
UP NEXT:  Holiday shows abound and they're opening this week. Yes even in the land of palm trees and ocean breezes, it's beginning to look (and sound) a lot like Christmas. We take you to several of our favorite southern California holiday shows and recommend our favorites.  Meanwhile,
remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a fresh look at travel, the arts, celebrations, nature, family and more:


  1. Fabulous! So happy for all of you.

  2. Encinitas Sea LoversNovember 22, 2019 at 7:55 AM

    We are so fortunate to have Scripps in our backyard -- and the two of you brave, life-affirming souls. WONDERFUL story and photos. Great Thanksgiving piece.

  3. So uplifting on this week before Thanksgiving. How you can tell a story...thrilling!

  4. Salt Lake City ReadersNovember 22, 2019 at 2:59 PM

    Wonderful news. About you and the generous young man and his sister. We are on the list in Utah, working our way up for our liver transplant. Hope we have similar luck. Thank you for sharing this important donor information.

  5. Splendid story and great photos.

  6. We send our "heartfelt" thanks for making people aware of this wonderful facility and its crack team of professionals.

  7. Excellent reporting. You still have the knack, Cookie. And what a way to recommendation "checking the box."