Photo Contest

Vicky Dennis

Photo Description

My living donor and I celebrating our first donate life month together ! We died these flowers blue and green and took these photos in preparation for this exciting month to spread awareness.

My Story

In 2020, my life took a drastic turn as I faced hospitalization due to liver failure at the age of 27. The optimism and excitement I once felt for the future were abruptly replaced by the stark reality of my mortality. The diagnosis revealed both PBC (Primary Biliary Collengisits) and AIH (Autoimmune Hepatitis), leaving my liver irreversibly cirrhotic. At 27, I was given a prognosis of approximately five years until complete liver failure. The only viable option for extending my life was a liver transplant, requiring the replacement of my entire organ with a healthy liver from either a living or deceased donor. The concept of organ donation was entirely new to me, and the very word “transplant” sent shivers down my spine. How could this be happening to me?

Upon my doctor’s advice, I patiently waited a few years for my condition to worsen before actively seeking a living donor. Finally, in 2023, the time had come to find my match. Despite testing my husband, brothers, and childhood friends, all were disqualified for various reasons such as blood type, pre-existing conditions, and organ anatomy. Back at square one and running out of time, I had a pivotal dinner with Zoe on her birthday in May 2023. I shared the goal of securing a transplant by year-end, never expecting anyone, especially Zoe, to offer to be my donor. But, without a second thought, Zoe signed up for testing that very evening, and she never looked back.

Asking someone for such a selfless act is an immense challenge. Becoming a liver donor involves accepting potential risks, enduring a lengthy operation, and facing a grueling three-month recovery period. Zoe’s selflessness and proactive approach to signing up were nothing short of incredible. Our friendship quickly deepened from that point, and she has since become a sister to me.

Throughout the transplant process, Zoe’s unwavering support and positive attitude helped me find joy in every step of the journey. In the lead-up to the transplant, we passionately advocated for organ donation together on social media, enjoyed girls’ nights watching the Golden Bachelor, donned a giant liver costume for Halloween, and even joined a Pétanque League together, which evolved into an incredible support community for us as we prepared for surgery.

Zoe is truly extraordinary. Her fearless spirit and positive outlook transformed what was once a terrifying journey into one that felt comfortable and even exciting. She is now an indelible part of me — my Liver Sister and a best friend for life. Our shared goal is to run the NYC marathon together, supporting organ donation…. but that’s a few years down the line 😊.