Even at her sickest, Juana Hernandez believed in helping her family and community. With her donor's kidney, she has much more energy to continue serving those around her.
In 2020, while most people were concerned about COVID, Curt was facing liver failure and being rejected by multiple transplant programs. But then, all the pieces came together and saved his life.
The year 2020 was hard for everyone as we faced a global pandemic. Curt Newcomer and his family faced some particular challenges as he and his brother dealt with sharing the care of their widowed father. In July 2020, their father passed away. Just a few weeks later, Curt received the devastating news that he would need a liver transplant.
Curt’s illness was caused by a mixture of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. He went from working full time and helping to care for his dad to being slowed down by fatigue, jaundice, nausea and loss of appetite, and pain and swelling. His body weakened, his balance was off, and even his mental faculties deteriorated with confusion, memory problems, and irritability. Curt confesses, “Eventually, I could no longer walk more than a few steps without being completely exhausted. I frequently fell, and getting assistance was very challenging as COVID was at its peak.”
In November 2020, Curt’s condition was dire. Doctors had told him he only had about 3 months to live. Two transplant centers had turned him down, and his brother, fiancé, and close friends were doing everything they could to do sustain him. Then a phone call came from UCLA. They hadn’t approved Curt for their transplant program yet, but they asked him to fly down. Once he was there, they admitted him, and suddenly everything came together quickly – the paperwork, insurance, and approvals. And then, amazingly, Curt had a match! On December 1, Curt received a lifesaving liver transplant from a donor he had never met and didn’t know.
The change in Curt’s life was astounding. He excitedly shares, “I feel great! I can do everything I used to do, and I’m trying out new activities, too. I’m able to enjoy playing music again, as well as activities like snowshoeing, hiking, and gardening.”
Curt has also been able to marry Amanda, the woman who stood by his side and gave him so much dedicated support throughout his ordeal.
Curt has written once to his donor’s family, but hasn’t yet received a response from them. He admits that it’s hard to find the words to write. He hopes that if they think of him, they know how grateful he is for the life he has now thanks to their loved one’s decision to give the gift of life. He says, “I feel good. Really good. It would not have been possible if not for my donor.”