My brother Douglas “DJ”, a retired Master Sergeant of the US Air Force, is the recipient of three organ transplants, a liver and two kidneys. All of his organs were transplanted in less than a one-year time frame. My brother Christopher “CJ”, is a living kidney donor.
After serving and fighting for his country, all over the world for over twenty years, in 2008, DJ became very sick and was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and was told that if he didn’t have a liver transplant in time, he would die. He lived with this secret, hiding it from our family for five years.
On September 11th, 2013, DJ got in his car in Washington, DC, and because of his failing liver, he ended up driving for five hours, over 100 miles away from his home in Alexandria, VA. He abandoned his car on I-95 south in Richmond, VA. He had encountered memory loss, due to his liver shutting down and not able to remove the toxins from his blood.
He wandered the streets of Richmond, VA, not knowing his name, nor how he got to Richmond. After a silver alert was broadcasted over all of the news outlets in Virginia, DC, and Maryland, he was located two days later, after paramedics had responded to a call of a suspicious man sitting in a parking lot eating white chalk.
He was rushed to the University of Maryland Transplant Center in Baltimore, MD where he had a dual liver and kidney transplant. His body had sustained so much stress that his kidneys had failed, as well.
Hours following the transplants, the kidney rejected and had to be removed. Days later, a blood clot developed in the hepatic artery and he returned to the OR for his medical team to remove the clot. And days after, a medical device attached to his abdomen to remove fluid ruptured and he returned to the OR once again.
Three weeks after the first transplants, he was released from the hospital to start his new lease on life, but still needing a kidney.
Five months later, my younger brother Chris, came forward and offered to be tested to donate one of his kidneys to DJ. After being tested, but not a match, my brothers entered a kidney swap program where Chris would donate his kidney to a complete stranger that he did match, so that DJ would receive a kidney. Twelve days short of one year, DJ received his second kidney. They were involved in a six-way kidney swap.
Chris donated his kidney to a gentleman in Madison, WI. His name is Brian. And although Chris’ kidney went to Brian in Madison, all three were born and raised in the same hometown, Dayton Ohio. Our families met for the joyous celebration.
DJ’s second kidney was from a young lady in Bethpage, NY. Her name is Mariel. She donated her kidney in the swap program because her mother, Alejandra, desperately needed a kidney and no one in her family was a match with her. DJ, Chris, and our family traveled to Bethpage to meet Mariel, her mother, and their family.
It’s amazing how people of different races, genders, and cultures have more in common than people would have us believe.
Everyone involved in the organ transplants are Happy, Healthy and Living Life to the fullest.
Article by: Tracey Jordan, sister of DJ & Chris
News Segment from: WDTN News 2, Dayton Ohio, Ethan Fitzgerald