One year after the transplant, Sharol and Marlene sought to meet each other. In an ironic twist of fate, the two found they lived just two miles apart.
Lynn received a second chance at life, and she’s using every second to honor her donor and share her story.
Lynn Beebe and her husband of almost 55 years, David, have lived all over the country. They raised their children in Connecticut before moving to Chicago for David’s job, and then moved to Florida before finally settling in Oregon in 2022. Through all of the years and places, Lynn has been a busy woman. Besides being a wife and mother of four, she has also been a preschool teacher, a dedicated volunteer, and a runner. But by the time she reached her forties, she was also a functional alcoholic. That was when, as she recalls, “I realized that I needed alcohol every day, and it was not letting go of me.”
Although she was hiding her problem from her family, the alcohol abuse was taking its toll on Lynn’s body. Though she was able to get some therapy and stop drinking for a time during their years in Chicago, eventually, Lynn began drinking again. By September of 2013, she was sneaking drinks throughout each day, even as she traveled extensively and competed in bridge tournaments. She began to have severe nosebleeds, but it wasn’t until March 2014 that she had to face that something was terribly wrong. On March 29 of that year – the anniversary of her mother’s death from cancer years earlier – Lynn and David drove to Boston to visit their daughter. When their daughter saw her mother, she immediately noticed that Lynn’s eyes were yellow and rushed her to urgent care. There, Lynn collapsed and spent the next 10 days in a coma, in liver failure. Lynn was hospitalized for 6 weeks and had to relearn to walk again. Her life would never be the same.
In January 2016, an infectious disease doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital recommended that Lynn reach out to Mayo Clinic’s Jacksonville, Florida facility to see if they would be willing to treat her and list her for a liver transplant. Lynn remembers, “It was two weeks of rigorous testing. I was sure I would be denied because I was ‘just an alcoholic.’” But Mayo Clinic accepted Lynn as a patient, and in July 2016, they added her to the liver transplant waiting list.
The average time for someone to wait for a liver in the US can range from 30 days up to 5 years, if they receive one at all. Lynn was incredibly fortunate to only have to wait a couple of months. The call came on her 69th birthday – September 10, 2016.
“Two of our children were visiting. We were waiting to be seated at our dinner reservation. My cell phone rang and the screen said it was Mayo. I asked if they were calling to wish me a happy birthday, and then I got so excited I hung up on them! I was so overcome with emotion…. At around 3:30 AM, on September 11, they let me walk into the OR… and the rest is the biggest miracle of my life.”
Several years have now passed since her transplant, and Lynn treasures every day. She lives a life of gratitude, trying to honor her donor by living the best life she can and bravely telling her story. She shares, “My donor is the greatest hero I will never know. He gave this alcoholic a second chance at life, and I will honor him for the rest of my life. I will never drink again. Every day, seeing the beauty of life through my sobriety is a miracle – the good days and the not-so-good days.”