Monday, January 31, 2005

Happy Birthday, Joe...We Miss You

Folks -

Nothing new to report on Monday, just reflecting on what would have been brother Joe's 52nd birthday. Joe left us all too suddenly nearly eight years ago after a sudden illness. Joe, who gives Alexander his middle name (although, sadly, their lives never intersected), was a complex man - at home with either the works of Homer or the humor of Homer Simpson - as I said in my eulogy for him.

The best and last word on the matter may come from Baltasar Gracián, the 17th century Spanish Jesuit philosopher, whose words serendipitously turn up on Jan. 31 on our thought-for-the-day calendar.

''Sometimes it proves the highest understanding not to understand.''

Joe's picture looks down on us from the window ledge at the dining room table and I know he's another guardian angel for us. I have no doubt his works in heaven helped see my liver transplant to its successful conclusion.

God bless you, Joe, and happy birthday.
We miss you.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

A 'Super Special' Dedication

Folks -

The faithful team at 'Greasy Kid Stuff' came through on Saturday morning.
Twenty minutes into their two-hour radio show, Hova and Belinda, played our request of 'Happy Doesn't Have To Have An Ending' (known to us as Hippie Kitten's song) and dedicated it to David to celebrate his rebirth on Dec. 19 - the day of his life-saving liver transplant. The greasy courier pigeon made it through the snow!

For those of you reading this on the Web(and who isn't??), you haven't missed a thing!

Luckily, you can catch the song (by They Might Be Giants) and the chatter by going to and click on to 'Greasy Kid Stuff' and the archive for Jan. 29. Unfortunately, you can't jump to individual tracks, so you'll have to listen (to some great stuff) for 20 minutes before the song, which precedes the dedication.

You can read the words to the song via the link on our homepage - and you're in's the dialogue, if you don't want the actual Memorex experience...

Hova: "...they heard They Might Be Giants with 'Happy Doesn't Have To Have An Ending'"

Belinda: "And that is a super, special request going out to David Bird from Alex, Tasha, Mom and our kitty, Hippie Kitten, it's his new birthday when he got his new...what was it?...liver. His new birthday was December 19, so happy birthday, David Bird from Alex, Tasha, Mom and Hippie Kitten...New liver! Cool!"

Cool indeed!
Here's something else that's cool. Irish eyes continue to smile on us.
We've received yet another incredible offer from a would-be liver donor who read about David's need in the Irish American, the Chicago-based publication. That makes three caring readers - complete strangers - who were moved enough by our story to make the incredible offer. This one comes from a near 40-year-old father of two boys who lives in Nashville.

Our new friend, Paul, sounds like one cool cat - like Hippie Kitten.
God bless the Irish and all the rest of you who wish you were!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Pray Globally, Bleed Locally

Hi Folks -

Back from another checkup today at the NYU Transplant Center. Five weeks after the new liver has taken hold, things are still looking great. Dr. Devon John knocked two more meds off by daily list. Now I don't even have to try to stay awake to take my 10 PM pill or take a 8 AM water pill.

We've also gotten clearance to get our blood testing done locally again. That means no more pre-dawn rising, figuring out who is going to get the kids dressed, fed and off to school, and fighting rush hour traffic into NYC to get the bloodwork done early enough so the reports are back for the early afternoon checkup.

Now, our new quest will be to get to Quest Labs early on Saturday mornings and have them fax the test results STAT to NYU. I get to bleed locally now, minus the $6 tunnel fee and $25 for parking.

We've even been given the week off from seeing the doctor, with our once a week checkups now pushed back to once every two weeks. Now that's progress!

More importantly, I've been medically cleared so that Nancy and I can ''start behaving like man and wife again,'' in Dr. John's delicate words.
''Whaddaya mean,'' I asked, ''We've been arguing about money since I got home from the hospital.''

Oh, you mean we can have sex again. And it's a Full Moon tonight!
Dr. John told us of a man who refrained from sex with his wife for three years after she got her new liver. ''I didn't want to damage her (not now) new liver by having sex,'' he explained to the transplant doctor. ''Did you damage the old liver by having sex?'' the doctor said, adding ''I don't think so.''

Faithful BLOG readers will have noticed a gnome who keeps posting poems.
I can now expose the Anonymous author as none other than Rider grad Ace McCase, once heralded in words glued to his own typewriter as ''The Most Exciting Irishman Since JFK.''

Turning the tables on this tacky Tennyson, we offer:

There once was a man named Pat
who could write limericks just like THAT
Like a surgeon, he quickly would deliver
a poke at Bird's newly installed liver
with a ''I need a rhyming word - STAT!''

Fans of David and of wacky songs for kids and wacky adults, take note.
''Greasy Kid Stuff,'' a two-hour program on New Jersey radio station WFMU 91.1 FM
on Saturday Jan 29 at 10 AM - noon, will include a ''birthday'' song in honor of my new ''rebirth'' day of Dec. 19.

Hova, the show's host, pledges to play Hippie Kitten's theme song: ''Happy Doesn't Have To Have An Ending,'' by They Might Be Giants as a dedication during the birthday hollers, which usually come after 11 AM.

Webheads can easily tune in to the program at this website

The shows are archived, so if you're listening to Ray Coniff LPs instead, or busy cleaning out your lint filter, you can catch it anytime you want.

Among the stream of recent well-wishes, was a telephone call from Saudi Arabia, with one of the most important players behind the scenes of the global oil industry calling to see how I'm getting along. I'll be reading the Sunday comics to Alex this weekend while he'll be pulling the strings at the OPEC meeting in Vienna - and that's fine with me.

Prayers and good wishes are tumbling in from London, from where our good friend Eithne (pronounced Aetna like everyone's favorite insurance company) writes to admit she tipped off Cliff in Chicago about my search for a liver, leading him to spread the word through the Irish-American community, stimulating moving offers from would-be living donors.

As our circle of prayer encircles the world, and we think of all the kindnesses via snow plows and food deliveries we're received this week from caring neighbors, we say Pray Globally, Live and Love Locally.

- David

Sunday, January 23, 2005

SNOW TIME! A Day At The Races, A Night At The Neighbors

Well folks, it's been a few days since I updated, but cut me a break. I've been snowed under. Literally.

Through the incredibly accurate measure of Alex's arm, we've determined that an even foot of snow fell on Millington between midday Saturday and midday Sunday. The snow on top of the Explorer was as deep as the distance from the tip of Alex's finger to his elbow - now we know he has a foot between his finger and his elbow. While he doesn't actually have an extra foot (in the five toes, arch and heel sense), he did have some extra protection against the snow. When we announced we were planning a romp in the yard, Alex disappeared and quickly reappeared with his own announcement: He was wearing four pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks and three shirts and was ready to go.

Tasha was fascinated by what appeared to be a snowball tree outside her window, reminding me of the famous Russian folk song, Kalinka, an ode to a snowball tree.

Because we named our children Alexander and Natasha, Nancy and I are often asked if we're Russian. We're not, of course, both being the youngest of six in Irish Catholic families. We just liked the way a long first name worked with our four-letter last name.

I never studied Russian, but the words to Kalinka are indelibly etched in my brain thanks to a somewhat wacky political science professor at Rider College (now University). For years, Fred Yeager - a former State Department employee who survived the Bataan Death March after he started with fellow prisoners the ''I Like It Here'' Club to keep their spirits up - would teach the words to foreign songs in the last 10 minutes of every class. Of course, as a serious student, I swore I would never go along with such silliness when there were matters of State to be debated. But, of course, I soon was hooked, and I'm proud to say that, I, and my fellow Perpetually Partying Peruvian Peacocks, were enshrined in Yeager's Songbird Hall of Fame after a rousing performance in the college pub. The songs he taught came in surprisingly handy in my travels over the years. On a trip to the running of the bulls in Pamplona, years ago, I led a small crowd in singing ''A mi me gusta el pimperimppimpim,'' a Spanish song which praises the sound that the wine makes when it's being squeezed from an animal skin flash into your mouth. I both sang ''Kalinka'' with a group of Norwegians at a villa on the Greek island of Santorini and forcefully recited the Russian words (and only those words) in response to two Moroccan hustlers in Tetoun who wanted to act as my ''guide'' and practice their English. The two spoke such fabulous English I never did understand why they didn't just go off together and knock themselves out, speaking English with each other until they were blue in the face.

But, back to the snow at hand.
Small, egg-sized snowballs had collected on the tips of branches on the evergreens along the driveway. The snow was far too fine to make snowmen or even snowballs, but naturally formed snow boulders were strong enough to hold together for throwing. Nancy pulled Alex and Tasha through the yard on the sled, but it was rough going and required a lot of shifting and jockeying by Alex to avoid tipping. The destination - the playset - was soon reached, though, and with little prompting, Alex scurried up the ladder to his pirate den and then down (or partly down) the snow-jammed slide. Moments later, Tasha was doing the same before opting for a ride on the swing (with a push from Nancy) instead. She declared herself a ''roly poly snow bug'' and appointed me to the role of a woolly bear caterpillar, so I could stay warm.

Before the snow hit on Saturday, we ventured out early to Alex's Pinewood Derby race, run by the local Boy Scouts, where big hopes rest on very small wheels. Alex designed a racing car on his sketch pad and it was up to the parents to fashion it as planned into a 5-ounce Mean Machine. Thinking of it now, a large hacksaw probably wasn't the best tool to do the carving, but somehow we managed to get it together and keep it together, even though my deep cuts near the axle threatened to keep the wheels from staying on. Alex had his dream car, though, which he lovingly painted black with orangy fire designs and labeled with a No. 6 decal. A neighbor offered a sleek car he'd crafted a couple of years ago, with weights strategically placed in the frame for increased aerodynamics, but Alex rejected it. He was determined to race his own car down the small banked track whether the wheels came off it or not. He was delighted when it passed the official weigh-in and was impounded until race time, according to the derby's strict rules.

Come Saturday morning, Alex, who picked out his outfit for the race two days earlier, didn't place in the winners' circle, but his car made a strong effort and disappointment was eased by a trip to Dunkin' Donuts. For me, the race, attended by many friends and neighbors was a first step back into the wonderful community that's been so helpful to Nancy and the kids during my hospitalization. A morning spent greeting so many friends was a fabulous start to the day which later included a hike through the snow to the neighbors - it felt like going for a moon walk to me - that evening. There was much ribbing from the crowd of Yankee fans (I don't hold it against them) that my new liver from a wonderful donor from the Bronx may not decide to reject me until opening day of the baseball season, when the Red Sox start their defense of their World Series championship.

Once again, this time in the guise of snow angels, our neighbors - armed with snow blowers and shovels - pitched in to clear our walkway and driveway. It's another reminder for us of how blessed we are to live in this wonderful community.

Earlier in the week, my one-month anniversary with my new liver was celebrated in the style I had hoped. Apart from filing my own application to be an organ donor after my death, I received an e-mail shortly after my last posting to the Blog. An old and dear friend wrote that she and her husband had downloaded the donor forms I wrote about and were also faxing them in on my anniversary date.

That's a start people, but we've got a very long way to go.

The important web address are, again, for New Jersey residents:

Information on how to be an organ donor in all states and Puerto Rico is found at:

And for our many readers in the U.K., my sister Maryann writes from London that the site to see is:

Anniversary Wednesday included the weekly check-up with the doctor at the NYU Transplant Center. This time, I learned, by happenstance that my gall bladder was also removed during by liver transplant, as it is no longer needed. I don't mind that...I just thought I might have heard about it a month ago when it was removed. Here's the deal - the gall bladder's nerve endings are what tells it to release the bile that it stores up. Since those nerve endings (unlike the valves etc) can't be reconnected to new liver, the gall bladder would simply become a bloated reservoir for bile. ''It would become bigger than you,'' mused Dr. Ahmed Fahmy at my check up, pointing out that the other bright spot is I now can never get gall stones.

Dr. Fahmy again cut down on some of the meds, based on my solid performance, so far, as a transplant recipient, but reinstated some of the water pills and that has successfully put a stop to the lingering swelling in my feet and ankles. The tidbit of bad news is that the steroids I take to slow down the healing process so that scar tissue doesn't develop around the liver is also slowing down the healing of an uncomfortably located bedsore, an unwanted souvenir from my 23 days in the hospital.

Nearly a month after Christmas, Nancy took the ornaments of the tree - which, dangerously, had begun to shed them randomly by itself - and the brittle tree was plunked out on the lawn in the Saturday snow. There it becomes, temporarily, another ''snowball tree'' until the town's trucks come around.

That leaves plenty of time for another song. Everybody, snap your fingers, let's go: ''Ka-linka...Ka-linka...Ka-linka...''

- David

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

How To Celebrate My One-Month Transplant Anniversary

Folks - I'm sure you're asking yourselves - "Has it really been one month since David got his new liver?" Amazingly it has been. And I've got big plans to celebrate the milestone on Wednesday Dec. 19. I'm planning to get up at the crack of dawn with Nancy and drive to the Transplant Center at New York University, where I'll be handing out the gifts - a stool sample and a few vials of blood for my weekly testing. Then it's time for 8 AM meds in the cozy confines of the NYU cafeteria. Next, we'll relax by spending at least an hour on the telephone with the Social Security Administration to guarantee I'll be getting a sliver of a check from them next month when my short-term disability for my liver ailment shifts to long-term disability, and, with that, 40% of my salary goes out the window. That cutback will be in effect until I'm able to get back to work as senior energy correspondent and columnist at Dow Jones Newswires in Jersey City, NJ. That will be anywhere from 3 to 6 months from now, if all continues to go well.

So, what have I been doing since I got the new liver and got sprung from the hospital on Dec. 30 in time to be home for the start of the New Year 2005 with Nancy, Alex, Tasha and Hippie Kitten? I've been eating everything in sight - gaining back to 170 pounds from the high 150s a few weeks ago. A cutback in meds, which lessened diarrhea has helped quite a bit. I've had all 75 staple stitches removed, started wearing shoes again, as swelling in the feet and ankles has subsided, and have been getting some exercise in walking around and working out with a stretch band, although cold weather has kept me more cooped up than I'd like to be. It's been great just to hang out with Nancy and the kids, playing games, building Alex's Pinewood Derby car for his Scout race, enjoying a fire in the fireplace, watching football playoffs (entertaining the idea of kicking for the Jets next season), endlessly surfing the web, scrawling notes for a book, BLOGGING, popping pills, meeting friends and napping when I need to. Most rewarding has been just rekindling with Nancy and the kids and working on our future together.

I've written to the family of the donor of my liver - the 53-year-old woman from Bronx, N.Y. who lost her life on Dec. 19, but gave me a new life that day.

Among the things I haven't done is name my new liver. You'd be surprised how many people ask me if I've done this.

So far, I've just been referring to my new liver as "She," like a noble ship taking me without fear through rough waters. But lately, I've been toying with the idea of naming my new liver "Dora," after Dora the Explorer, the bilingual kids cartoon in which a young girl goes on adventures with her pet monkey, Boots, and tries to succeed in tasks while eluding the sneaky Swiper the fox. Dora speaks both in English and Spanish and often relies on her trusty tools to meet her goal. She urges viewers - like my 3-year-old daughter Natasha Willow Bird (Tasha) - to call out "Backpack," or "Map," to help her out and to shout "Swiper, no swiping," when the sly fox rears his head. I felt more than a little like Dora in the hospital, with a somewhat different script, calling out "Nurse," and "Bedpan" at regular intervals.

My overwhelming need to pray the Hail Mary in Spanish each day with Nancy at the hospital (something I remembered from high school language class) also has me convinced that my donor was a Hispanic woman and that I was making a psychic connection with her long before the transplant. That makes the choice of "Dora" as the name for my new liver all the more appropriate.

There's one very important thing that I've neglected to do in the past month - and that will be the cornerstone of Wednesday's celebration.

Despite all my talk - I have yet to sign up myself to be an organ donor.

Well that's about to change.

And I'd like you all to join with me.

Let's fry the NJ Sharing Network's fax machine tomorrow by sending them more donor registrations than they've ever before received.

Go to the website: and click on how to become an organ donor.
Here's all the information you need if you are a resident of New Jersey.
The Donor Registry Application form is available on line and can be faxed to
(973) 379-5113.

That number again 9-7-3 3-7-9 5-1-1-3.

For those of you who aren't fortunate enough to live in the Garden State, this website: provides information on how to become a donor in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico. Just pick your state and click on it.

As you celebrate with me on Wednesday the first month of the rest of my life, spare a thought, as I will, about how lucky I am to have beaten overwhelming odds to actually have the opportunity to have a liver transplant.

As of this writing, UNOS, the United Network For Organ Sharing, reports there are currently 87,231 people waiting for organ transplants. On Jan. 2, two weeks after I had my transplant, 17,313 people across the U.S. remained on the list awaiting livers.

Every 14 minutes a new name is added to the waiting list for organ transplants.
Every year, an estimated 6,000 people die waiting for organ transplants.
Wouldn't it be great to sign up a new organ donors at a rate of one every 14 minutes.

Let's start today!

Now, for those of you who feel cheated if they don't come away from this (long) BLOG without a bit of a chuckle, here, in the unconventional brilliance of John Prine, a fabulous singer/song writer that you must get to know if you don't already, is an oddball take on organ donation off of one of the greatest records ever made.

I'm just asking that you take in the right spirit as the message comes with (hopefully) a laugh. And, yes, Frank and Lynnie, I can hear you singing along all the way from Virginia and, you, too, Ray, in Ormond Beach, Florida. As John himself has been quoted as saying "It's the best organ donor campfire song I know of." And I can't argue with that.

Keep them campfires burning - and here's something to sing to yourself while you're on hold Wednesday while faxing through your organ donor registration form.

God bless you all!

Please Don't Bury Me
By John Prine
From the albums Sweet Revenge (Atlantic Records 1973) and
Great Days: The John Prine Anthology (Rhino Records 1993)

Woke up this morning
Put on my slippers
Walked in the kitchen and died
And oh what a feeling!
When my soul
Went thru the ceiling
And on up into heaven I did ride
When I got there they did say
John, it happened this way
You slipped upon the floor
And hit your head
And all the angels say
Just before you passed away
These were the very last words
That you said:

Please don't bury me
Down in that cold cold ground
No, I'd druther have "em" cut me up
And pass me all around
Throw my brain in a hurricane
And the blind can have my eyes
And the deaf can take both of my ears
If they don't mind the size

Give my stomach to Milwaukee
If they run out of beer
Put my socks in a cedar box
Just get "em" out of here

Venus de Milo can have my arms
Look out! I've got your nose
Sell my heart to the junkman
And give my love to Rose

(Repeat Chorus)

Give my feet to the footloose
Careless, fancy free
Give my knees to the needy
Don't pull that stuff on me
Hand me down my walking cane
It's a sin to tell a lie
Send my mouth way down south
And kiss my ass goodbye

(Repeat Chorus)

Monday, January 17, 2005

Irish Eyes Smiling On Us

Okay - I know it's Jan. 17, not March 17, but it feels like Saint Patrick's Day around here, with Irish eyes smiling on us. Irish-American eyes to be exact.

In the past few days, e-mails have come in from two Irish American lasses who say they read about my quest for a new liver in a publication called Irish American News.

With much joy, I wrote back to both ladies to tell them that I was blessed by the gift of a full liver on Dec. 19 from a deceased donor - a 53-year-old woman from Bronx, N.Y. And I shared with them the happiness of being sprung from the hospital after 23 days to get home to Nancy, Alex, Tasha and Hippie Kitten on Dec. 30, just in time to kick of a wonderful New Year 2005.

Nearly one month after my transplant operation, all 75 of my staple stitches have been removed, I'm wearing shoes again as swelling in the ankles has subsided, meds have been reduced, and everything is on track for full recovery. The porcelain sake cuts which wife Nancy brought back from trips to Japan, now fit the bill perfectly as pill-dispensing cups.

Our first correspondent, also named Nancy, wrote: "I was moved by your story and the photo of your family. I understand the importance of family even more poignantly since losing my mother five years ago. I looked at your family photo and hope your small children will have both of their parents for a long, long time."

Mary Ann, a 40-year-old travel agent from La Grange, Illinois, near the Missouri border, wrote that she has Type O blood - the same type as mine - and offered that "after reading the criteria needed to possibly become a donor, I realized that I may be able to help out." Adding that she's in relatively good health, Mary Ann wrote, "If you're still in need, please feel free to contact me. God bless."

Cliff Carlson, publisher of Irish American News, a monthly said he'll send along to us what he put in his just released January 2005 issue. The Chicago-area newspaper has about 25,000 subscribers and is expanding in the Midwest.

With so many Irish eyes reading our news, it gives us pause to marvel at the ability of the Word to make a change. The Internet, our prayers, our common beliefs and common heritage form a unbroken link around the world that becomes an incredible force for good and is yet another sign that there are more things that bring good-hearted people together than keep them apart.

So, here is a prayer offered up to tender Irish eyes and a God-bless to all the warm-hearted people around the globe that have helped us, offered to help us, or just sent along good wishes to us at this time.

We love you all!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Slipping Into Shoes Again - Pleasure In Simple Things

It's always the simple things that provide the most pleasure. On Thurday morning, I slipped into a pair of honest-to-goodness shoes - instead of the bedroom slippers I've been wearing since the summer. The swelling in my feet and ankles, caused by fluid buildup related to the liver disease, has eased considerably due to exercising in the last few days.

I beat my goal by a week of wearing shoes - not slippers - to next Wednesday's doctor appointment.

On Wednesday, a woman from Gillette, a neighboring Long Hill Township town, called to say she had read about me in the latest issue of the Echoes-Sentinel newspaper and that she was a liver transplant recipient 18 years ago and "it gets better each day." Indeed it does!

Here is the latest story from the Echoes-Sentinel, with some important corrections to note.

There is no website. All information about the Save David Foundation can be found on the website under the "How You Can Help" headline.

I received the good news that a liver was available for me at 3:40 AM on Dec. 19 - the day of the transplant - not two days before the transplant, as the story states.

In February, when I am placed on long-term disability at work, my salary will drop to 60% of normal. It won't be cut in half next week as reported.

Millington resident home after liver transplant MINHAJ HASSAN

LONG HILL TWP - A celebratory mood was apparent inside and outside David Bird's Long Hill Road, Millington, home. Bird was nothing short of appreciative and thankful.

Having suffered excessive fatigue since last June from a rare form of acute hepatitis, a disease that causes inflammation of the liver, the 46 year-old resident said he got his Christmas present about a week early on Dec. 19, in the form of a new liver.

Bird underwent an eight-hour liver transplant at New York University Hospital on that day. The liver donation was made possible by a deceased 53-year-old female from Bronx, N.Y., with Type O blood, which matches Birds.

I felt like my prayers were answered, Bird said, recalling the time his nurse told him the good news at 3:40 a.m., Friday, Dec. 17. I called my wife and told her that this was the call she was waiting for.

Nancy Bird said she's still speechless on describing her emotions regarding her husband's improved prognosis. However, she knows she feels sheer excitement.

David Bird also told his wife to be cautiously optimistic, adding that the first three months of recovery will determine how his long-term health will be.

For now, though, he's glad he no longer has acute hepatitis.

It's an instant change, he said.

David Bird said as soon as he heard the good news, he got out of his hospital bed and watched the sun rise over the East River. Spending several days at the hospital, he did various strength-training exercises, one of which was walking up and down stairs.

It's been a tough journey to convalescence. When the Echoes-Sentinel spoke to David Mr. Bird on Dec. 4, he said he was right on the threshold when describing how quickly he needed a liver transplant. Doctors thought he could survive on half a liver.

However, Mr. Bird's condition worsened considerably on Dec. 7, when he was transported to Overlook Hospital in Summit during the middle of the night. At that point, physicians told him he needed a full liver transplant to make a recovery. The next day, he was transported to New York University Hospital, where he remained for about three weeks.

He got it just in time, Mrs. Bird said, about her husband's transplant.

Side Effects

Besides the fatigue, Bird's weight has dropped from 214 pounds to 160 pounds. A business reporter for Dow Jones, he has been out of work since last summer.

To remain healthy, or at least, disease-free, Bird must take several prescription drugs.

"They say once a liver transplant recipient, always a liver transplant recipient," he said.

Bird is on 14 medications, taking as many as 40 pills a day.

Bird is grateful that he's gotten past the life-and-death stage. The focus now is to make a good, if not full, recovery.

He was glad to spend New Year's Eve with his family, eating pizza and sipping sparkling cider. He shaved his beard off at 11:50 p.m., that evening, adding that it made him look scruffy.

"I looked like Saddam (Hussein) in a spider hole," he said.

Nancy Bird wanted to make sure her husband was close to their kids and made a video library of their daily lives.

David Bird said he was especially touched when his 6-year-old son, Alexander, told him that he got his late Christmas present "You."

As a daily exercise, he has been walking on the Stirling bike trails and around the Tower of Remembrance at the Shrine of St. Joseph, on Long Hill Road, Stirling. If the recovery goes well, Mr. Bird said he could return to work in six months.

His Web site,, will remain on the Internet to provide information on the disease. A sister Web site,, is intended to raise funds for the Bird family, while Mr. Bird is out of work. Once he goes on long-term disability in a week, his salary will be cut in half.

They are optimistic they will overcome their financial hurdles. The community is also chipping in. One of the Birdses' friends, Wendy Sequeira, of Sunny Slope, Millington, has set up a drive to collect funds.

Several local businesses are carrying ribbon magnets that read, "Love David, Liver Disease Awareness."

"We hope to raise enough to offset some of the doctor and hospital fees," she said.

Sequeira said 1,000 ribbons were ordered. Residents can purchase each ribbon for $5, at such locations as the Millington Savings Bank, the Pizza Mill, both on Long Hill Road, Millington, Country Farms, on Division Avenue, Millington, Dorsi's Deli on Main Avenue, Stirling, Jaegar Lumber, and Calabria, both on Valley Road, Stirling.

As of Friday, Jan. 7, some $440 was raised between the Millington businesses, according to Sequeira.

Those who would like to make a donation could save it to Save David Foundation, P.O. Box 206, Millington, N.J. 07946.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tuesday Snow Flurries

Snow flurries and chilly temperature on Tuesday made it unlikely day to get my hair cut short, but after months without a visit to the barber, it was still a welcome treat. Now, I look like Fuzzy Wuzzy, and have still a few more pounds to gain back.

Accompanied Nancy to pick up Tasha from pre-school at Treenhouse and it was a treat to visit with her teachers, Helene Rubin and Pat Maciej, who have been so supportive and helpful over these many months.



Monday, January 10, 2005

Pass The Staple Remover...And The Tape...

Folks - A long, but productive day at NYU Transplant Center on Monday. After weekly bloodwork at 7:30 AM, Nancy and I ran into Dr. Lewis Teperman, head of the transplant center, who declared: "The Birds Are Flying High."

We saw him hours later for an official visit in the office, where I'm glad to say, all 75 of my metal staples in the "Mercedes Benz" logo abdominal incision and the others in my left groin and under my left arm, were removed - 22 days after the liver transplant.

Dr. Ahmed Fahmy, with just a simple clip with scissors made quick work of the handiwork which was part of the 8-hour transplant surgery on Dec. 19. The metal staples were replaced by thin strips of white tape which will temporarily hold things together before they slip away without consequence in coming days.

The good news is Heide Alexander, our dear friend, talented photographer and Web mistress supreme, took plenty of post-op, post-beard, pre-stitch removal pictures that will soon be posted on a separate page listed in the homepage.

Doctors also adjusted down the meds again, attempting further relief from nagging diarrhea, and reflecting my constantly improving health.

I've been eating like a horse - scrumptious meals of turkey chili and corn bread, roast chicken, soup, and homemade pizza dropped off by our wonderful, caring neighbors - who never forget to include fresh-baked cookies, too. Glad to say I've gained five pounds in recent days to 166 pounds - still 50 pounds under the level of just a few months ago - but moving in the right direction.

A very pleasant surprise was running into Michael, a fellow liver transplant recipient, who is, in fact, the man who received the 80-year-old liver which I decided to turn down on Dec. 17.

He's doing great, exercising his TV remote control at home, and using high-quality ice cream to gain back 10 pounds that he's down since his operation. Michael's is a remarkable story. He suffered from Hepatitis C for many years and later was stricken with liver cancer, for which he received treatment. A cancerous tumor returned around Thanksgiving and was detected just in time - if it had grown fractionally larger, he would have been unable to qualify for a liver transplant.

I feel blessed that God directed me in my decision to turn down what I believed to be not the appropriate liver for me - and that it went to this man and saved his life. The looks he shares with his wife, Nan, and his vitality put me at a loss or words.

Keeping within New York Organ Donor Network guidelines, I wrote a letter of thanks and sympathy to the family of the 53-year-old woman from the Bronx whose liver I received upon her death on Dec. 19.

Under the organization's protocol, my letter was turned in at NYU Transplant Center, which will forward it to the Donor Network. The Donor Network will check with the donor's family to find out if they are ready to receive such a letter. If the family takes the letter, I may eventually get a response, at the family's choice. Otherwise, the family may choose not to respond and the issue is closed.

I included in my letter the words to a moving song brought to my attention in the transplant center when my sister-in-law Chris Fleming came in with a CD of one of her daughters, Alison Wiggins, angelically singing the tune ''For Good,'' from the Broadway hit ''Wicked.''
Alison, a singer and actress in her school, is including the CD in her college applications.

Here are the inspiring words, which Nancy and I hope Alison will sign for us at a ceremony to renew our wedding vows this spring...

"For Good"
by Stephen Schwartz (copyrighted)

You're the only friend I've ever had.
And I've had so many friends. But only one-- that mattered.
















- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Echoes-Sentinel local weekly newspaper returned for a follow-up story on my Christmas time liver miracle, taking plenty of photos. Story expected in the Thursday Jan. 13 issue.

Long Hill Township administrator called today for information on the transplant and the Save David Foundation we've established to help cover our additional costs. The mayor has agreed to allow Save David magnetic "ribbons", designed and created by our neighbors, to be sold at Town Hall and a formal ordinance was being prepared Monday for approval by the full Town Council.

All in all, time well spent in New York City today, before leaving without a stitch.

(Apologies to Dr. Thomas Diflo, my transplant surgeon and apparent close reader of this Blog, for incorrectly capitalizing the ''f'' in his name in two references on Jan. 4).


Saturday, January 08, 2005

Bird, Vampire Save A ''Cursed'' Celt

Folks - I'm proud to announce that the SaveDavid.Org
website has saved another life.
My Dec. 6 Web posting sent up a red flag on the issue
of hemochromatosis - a disease of high iron content in
the blood - which is known as the Celtic Curse,
because it frequently occurs in people of Irish and
Scottish heritage. Treatment involves regural
blood-letting. It can have very serious consequences
and everyone of Celtic heritage should check out the

We've now just heard from a friend who is a hospital
administrator at the Jersey shore that she took our
advice and got checked out.

''I was found to have the disorder along with elevated
liver enzymes (which are being further evaluated) and
will soon start visiting a vampire for regular
blood-letting (not sure if it is once every two weeks
initially and then every 6, but it will be quite often
and likely for the rest of my life),'' our friend

''Your mention of this on your website very likely
saved my life, so I can't tell you how grateful I am
to you for that.''

The pleasure is all ours!

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Dusting of Snow Brings Thoughts of Spring

Folks - a dusting of snow is bringing thoughts of
Spring as Nancy and I make plans to renew our wedding
vows. Alex and Tasha are back to school after runny
noses and coughs kept them grounded at home.
Echoes-Sentinel returned for follow-up story and will
be taking pictures later this week. Lots of Sunday
comics to catch up with Alex on...

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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

On The Road To Recovery - With A Great Soundtrack

Hi folks! At my first official out-patient liver
transplant visit today, Dr. Thomas DiFlo declared I'm
on the ''straight and narrow'' road to recovery.
Blood workup shows ''liver numbers are perfect and
kidney function levels are back to normal.''
Amazingly, the bilirubin level (which caused my
several jaundice) is back down to just 2.4 - about 14
times below it's peak.
All 17 inches or so of my "Mercedes Benz'' logo-shaped
abdomenal incision is healthy and some of the metal
staple stitches will be removed in coming weeks.
Doctor cut back on some meds which have likely been
aggrevating my gastrointestinal system, which should
help in adding back some weight. I've dropped to 159
pounds - about 55 below pre-hospitization weight of
about 214. Not all of weight loss can be attributed to
shaving - and the goatee is coming back. I look so
different than on my release a physical therapist
didn't recognize me when we saw each other in the
hospital cafeteria.
Back next Monday for more bloodwork and further check
Dr. DiFlo, who performed the transplant surgery on me
on Dec. 19, was kind enough to provide me with the
list of songs he had loaded in his MP3 player during
the lengthy surgery. The random tunes that emerged
from the 6-1/2-page list, forming the ''Soundtrack For
The Rest Of My Life'' - included: ''The First Cut is
the Deepest'' and Janis Joplin's ''Mercedes Benz''

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Saturday, January 01, 2005

New Face Of 2005

There's a new face to 2005. No, I'm not talking about
Regis Philbin filling in for the ailing Dick Clark at
the ball drop for the first time in 100 years. I'm
talking about the new beardless Bird - last since
circa 1993. Went wild with the electric razor last
night minutes before midnight. After nuzzling noses
with Tasha she gave me her run down of ''beard,
mustache and funny little hair, funny little hair.''
Now I still have terminal bed head, but the goatee and
'stache are gone. Since I'm pounds lighter there are
few chins this time, so the look is somewhat soothing
if not sobering when I see it in mirror. Oddly, Alex
awoke (after staying up to midnight with us), dressed
as Sherlock Holmes and drew on a grease paint
moustache. Tasha continues to flit around in butterfly
wings on the best day of the coming best year ever.
Staying alive in 2005!
Visiting nurse came for lengthy visit today and is
setting up physical therapy including massage and
everything else I need, after refreshing bath things
are feeling great and heading out for a traditionalo
walk in the woods.
Folks - please add to prayer list - pray for repose of
soul of Christian Fleetwood, 44, brother of my train
traveling buddy and Dow Jones colleague Carmen
Fleetwood. Christian died after falling through the
ice of the Passiac River while fishing near his
Millington home last Sunday. He worked at A&P and at
Country Farms store. Memorial will be 2 PM Sunday at
All Saint's Episcopal Church. Carmen was nice enough
to deliver mail to me from the office during my

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"Best Day Ever"

Hi folks - we spent a lazy, mesmerizing day with Alex
and Tasha watching several episodes of PeeWee's
Playhouse from the DVD set Nancy got me for Christmas
- the second item on my wish list behind a new liver.
The kids were completely enchanted.
Alex declared today, pointing to me, that this New
Year's Eve was the ''best day ever...even better than
Christmas Eve. Because of the late Christmas gift I
got - You!''
We've been listening to Tom Petty in the car recently
and three-year old Tasha now demands that
"Wildflowers" be played each time we get in - and
signs along - saying its here favorite song. True
enough, she did want ''Woodie's Roundup'' after it
finished today, but we'll take it. For those who don't
know the hauntingly spiritual song, here are the

Tom Petty

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free
Run away, find you a lover
Go away somewhere bright and new
I have seen no other
Who compares with you
You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
You belong with your love on your arm
You belong somewhere you feel free
Run away, go find a lover
Run away, let your heart be your guide
You deserve the deepest of cover
You belong in that home by and by
You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worry
You belong somewhere you feel free
You belong somewhere you feel free

- random notes - down to 173 pounds on departure from
hospital versus 214 normal weight before illness hit.
Strolled around the grounds of hte Shrine of St.
Joseph for exercise in 50 plus degree temperatures
today. Beautiful sunset. Since I was in the hospital I
was inspired each time Nancy and I prayed with Holy
Water from Lourdes in France and a rosary blessed the
Pope to say the Hail Mary in Spanish - which I
remember from high school. When we entered the shrine,
there were at least eight people praying the Hail Mary
aloud in Spanish today and I joined right in. An
interesting sign of something. Looking forward to
shaving tonight!

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