MAYWOOD, IL – A Chicago policeman's fatal motorcycle accident became the gift of life for Loyola Medicine liver transplant patient George Carr.
"Thanks to Jonathan Ho and the unimaginable generosity of his family, I now have a life," said Mr. Carr, 57, of Brookfield, Illinois. "I feel 20 years younger and, after two decades of struggling, like I am finally out of the dark clouds."
When Mr. Carr learned he was going to be a father 23 years ago, he also found out something else very surprising—he had hepatitis C.
"I applied for a life insurance policy to care for my wife and our growing family and had to complete certain medical tests as part of the process," Mr. Carr said. "I was shocked when the tests revealed I had Hep C."
Mr. Carr, a computer security specialist, has taken great care of his health and participated in many Hep C treatments, but none were successful until 2014. Under the care of Loyola Medicine's hepatology team, he began taking a new drug and found the cure he had sought for two decades.
"The good news was that I had finally beaten Hep C, but the bad news was that it came too late. My liver was severely damaged after years of the disease and a cancerous tumor was discovered," he said. "I needed a liver and Loyola put me on the wait list." He and his wife attended Loyola's transplant education program, held in conjunction with Gift of Hope, to learn more about the process. "Other patients who had received organs spoke to us during the program and that really gave us hope," he said.
Three months later, he received a call that changed his life. Mr. Ho, a Chicago policeman and organ donor, died in a motorcycle accident and Mr. Carr would receive his liver.
Ramesh Batra, MD, performed Mr. Carr's transplant surgery. "I had just joined Loyola that month and Mr. Carr was my first liver transplant patient," he said. "I am happy to play a small role in his success story. The credit goes to the selfless donation of the Ho family. They are the true heroes."
Mr. Carr said he noticed an improvement in his health immediately after waking up from surgery. "I remember being able to think clearly for the first time in a long time. Memories, emotions, everything was suddenly right there. It has been a rush ever since," he said.
"I have been more than thrilled with Loyola," he said. "My physicians, nurses and entire medical staff are absolutely the ones you want when you have a serious, life threatening condition like I had.
Loyola Medicine offers the highest level of multidisciplinary, integrated care for liver disease and failure patients who may be considering a liver transplant. Loyola takes on the most challenging cases, some of which were turned away by other centers. As an academic medical center, Loyola doctors perform and teach the latest surgical techniques and medical practices.
In a meeting arranged this fall by Gift of Hope, Mr. Carr thanked the Ho family in person for their generosity in the face of such tragedy. He asked of them one simple request—to sign a plush liver given to him by his transplant team.
"Now it truly documents everyone who helped in my healing," he said. "Without Jonathan Ho, I wouldn't be alive today. I cannot have a bad day in my life because, thanks to him, I am here."