A Christmas Gift of Life

A liver transplant give man the opportunity to watch his two teenaged sons grow and “enjoy the simplest things that life has to offer.”

Transplant surgeon Cataldo Doria, MD, PhD

Transplant surgeon Cataldo Doria, MD, PhD

Christmas was almost over when Scott Kelly and his family got the present they really wanted. It was nearly 11 p.m. when they got the call from a liver transplant coordinator at Jefferson University Hospitals.

A donor liver was being offered to the New Jersey man and Scott to come to the hospital.

In May, Scott was diagnosed with liver disease. In June, he was at Jefferson for an appointment with one of our liver specialists.  Scott’s condition worsened over the following months, and in November he was placed on the waiting list for a liver transplant, joining more than 15,500 other people with end-stage liver disease.

In a recent letter to the Burlington County Times, Scott’s wife Tiffany wrote, “with each passing month, my husband’s health was failing rapidly. The simplest things were a struggle for him. He was not living, only existing.”

For Christmas, Scott – a 48-year-old retiree from the Burlington City Police Department – his wife, their two teenage sons and their entire family wanted only one thing: A much needed transplant.

Tiffany’s letter to the newspaper explains what happened:

About 10:50 p.m. on Christmas, my cellphone rang, and it was his nurse coordinator asking to speak with my husband. I could not imagine why she was calling so late, on Christmas night no less. I put him on the phone, and as they spoke I was getting bits and pieces of the call. When he hung up, I asked him what was going on, and he said they had a liver. I fell to my knees crying, and then began making the phone calls. I called my father, who rushed over and took us to the hospital.

We got to Jefferson around 11:30 p.m., and he went into surgery on December 26. The surgery went well, and the new liver seems to be working so far.

Words cannot describe our thanks and gratitude to the family who made the selfless decision to donate the organs of their loved one. Their act not only saved my husband’s life, but possibly many others’ as well. We do not know who the donor is, or where they are from, but whoever you are, we will be forever grateful to you for giving us the gift of life. We will think about you and your family every day. And our Christmases will be forever changed.

More than 700 patients have received liver transplants at Jefferson, the longest-running liver transplantation program in the Delaware Valley.

Learn how our experienced team of hepatologists transplant surgeons, radiologists and other specialists offers patients state-of-the-art care in this video:

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