Thursday, June 23, 2005

Front Page News!

The local weekly - the Echoes-Sentinel - ran the Liver Walk
story on page 1 with a color photo (taken by Nancy) of Alex
and I cutting the ribbon at the Liberty State Park event. Story
was beaten out for prime, above-the-fold placement by
"Successful Italian eatery finds home in Gillette." I guess we
know where the editor is having lunch!

The item below is pretty much as I wrote it a couple of weeks ago -
except for edited-in errors, including the date of the event and the web
address for information on how to become an organ donor. (That address is:

Interesting, my story has become so well known locally that 'Bird' seems to be
now acceptable in headlines, instead of the previous - anthropoligical sounding -'Millington Man.'

...Latest fund-raising tally $5,120....

Bird raises funds with his son at 5K Liver Walk

LONG HILL TWP. - David Bird of Long Hill Road,
Millington, who received a life-saving liver
transplant just before Christmas, cut the ribbon to
start and to walk in the 5K Liver Walk fund-raising
event on June 5, at Liberty State Park in Jersey City.

Bird, with help from his son, Alex, raised the most
funds for the American Liver Association’s three New
York area events.

‘’About 70 generous people donated over $5,000 to my
drive to help the American Liver Foundation find a
cure for this disease which strikes one out of 10
Americans,’’ Bird said.

‘’We smashed my ambitious target of raising $3,000 and
I’m proud to say that about one-third of the money I
raised came from folks with ties to the Long Hill
community that has already given so much support to us
since I became ill.’’

Overall, the three New York area events raised about
$70,000 for research into fighting liver disease.

‘’It was hot walking on Sunday morning, but inspiring
to be looking out over the Statue of Liberty and Ellis
Island, which are great symbols of hope and new
starts,’’ said Bird, adding his mother and her family
emigrated to the United States from Ireland, through
Ellis Island, when she was just 3 years-old.

Bird, who lives with wife Nancy, and children
Alexander, 7, and Natasha, 4, suffered from an unknown
form of hepatitis last July. He received a life-saving
liver transplant at New York University Medical Center
in New York on Dec. 19, 2004.

Bird, who is walking extensively throughout the
community to regain his strength, expects to be given
medical clearance to return to his job as senior
energy correspondent at Dow Jones Newswires in Jersey
City later this summer.

‘’Like all transplant recipients, I’ll be on some
daily medications for the rest of my life. But that’s
a small price to pay. I’m feeling great,’’ said Bird.

‘’When I got my transplant, I told my doctors that I
was going to work my hardest to reshape the world for
people with liver disease just the way the disease had
reshaped my liver. Liver Walk is just the beginning of
my dedication to this cause and to promoting the need
for organ donation. I’m well aware how lucky I was to
get my transplant,’’ said Bird.

‘’Right now, there are some 18,000 people awaiting
liver transplants across the country and nearly 90,000
are on the waiting list for all organ transplants.
Many will die while awaiting the needed organ. The
best way to help now is to register as an organ donor
and hopefully, with continued research into the
disease, even more lives can be saved,’’ said Bird.

Information on how to become an organ donor can be
found on the World Wide Web at

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Big Thanks In A Small Way

Folks - Courtesy of Tasha and Alex, Father's Day is always special. But this one takes the cake. Not only was June 19 the six-month anniversary of the implantation of Dora, my new liver, it was also an opportunity, in a small way, to say a big thank you to many of the people who helped us through these many tough months. My wonderful in-laws, Ginny and Tom Fleming, hosted a picnic on a magical New England-style summer day with mixed sun and clouds and temperatures in the mid-70s. Nancy's folks gratiously thanked the community that did such a wonderful job helping Nancy master bilocation and keeping the kids happy and fed while I had the relatively easy job of waiting in the hospital for weeks for a transplant liver to become available. I continue to be amazed by the kindess and strength of our family, friends and neighbors - some of whom I didn't even know at the time that I was stricken with liver disease last July - but can't now imagine them not being in my life.

Today, the summer solstice, like any day is another new beginning. But today's the longest day of the year - even more time to reflect, be thankful for what you have, let people know you love them, and make the world better.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A(nother) Walk In A(nother) Park

Hi folks - Well we did it! Or rather, you did it. Your donations helped make the Greater New York Liver Walks a rousing success. Nearly $70,000 was raised from the three NYC area walks. My total - from 70-plus wonderful donors - from Beijing to Brooklyn - Hong Kong to Hoboken - was an outstanding $5,070 - with still more pledges coming. That was enough to shatter my goal of $3,000 and rank me as the top NYC area fundraiser. That earned me the honor of cutting the ribbon to kick off Sunday's muggy 3.1-mile walk along the Hudson River at Liberty State Park. Alex helped me and I was about to do the final snip just as they began a countdown from 10 - fortunately, I held back and avoided blowing the big moment. It was a bakingly hot day, due to a distinct absence of trees along the path - unlikely the leafy NYC walk through Riverside Park. But the setting was sensational - with the back end of the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop along with Ellis Island, the immigration post were my arrived with parents and younger brother in 1922, when she was just three years old. They came from Belfast - making the long leg of the journey on a sister ship of the Titanic - which because of an explosion of coal gas bearly never made it here from (appropriately enough) - Liverpool. Of course, I felt her spirit with me as I walked along - with Liverpool Football Club's theme ''You'll Never Walk Alone'' playing in my head and scores of fellow walkers behind. The theme was an inspiration not only for me in continuing my winning battle with recovering from a liver transplant, but for all of those out there in whose name we walked in order to raise funds for research in fighting liver disease. An oddity of the walk was that all of these folks with liver disease on their minds - who can't drink alcohol - passed by a Budweiser beer promotional display featuring their famous Clydesdales - on one of the hottest days so far this year. Nancy took Tasha and Alex to the park's playground during the walk and I set out apace, meeting up with them later for a visit to the hairy-hoofed horses - one of whom is named Alex. The two-legged Alex (age 7) made another great inspirational poster for the walk - following the June 5 effort which featured the phrase ''livers walking for my dad.'' This time, he wrote a supportive ''Go Dad - Cut that ribbon - you can do it!'' surrounded by several drawings including a rumpled image of my old liver, a healthy new liver, apparently taking a stage bow proclaiming Ta-Da!; a gold ladder representing my (removed) gall bladder, which is saying ''Take Me Out!''; a pair of pink lungs (inexplicably sideways) saying ''Ooh - Aah,'' and a heart saying ''beat, beat.'' The picture was a hit with the American Liver Foundation staff and will grace the New York office. We topped our great morning off with a trip to Liberty Science Center, which features a stunning just-opened collection of photographs of scores in need of foster homes known as the ''Heart Gallery.'' The Star-Ledger newspaper of Newark (which helped to create the NJ version of this wonderful project and donated its $10,000 2004 Pulitzer Prize award to the effort) reported today that thusfar two children have found homes in the few days since the exhibit opened. While we were there yesterday, petting Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and doing science projects, a couple from Staten Island was reported by the newspaper to be narrowing their choice to adopting one of two - or maybe both - 12-year-old girls.
It's been a bit odd for us to miss church for the past two Sundays for the early morning Liver Walks - but sometimes maybe you have to miss church to see what God has in mind for you.

The Heart Gallery of New Jersey will be at Liberty Science Center until June 29 and will thereafter travel around the state for the rest of the year.

There's still time to donate to my Liver Walk fund-raising effort!
Donations are accepted on the website through June 20
via credit card - with dollar conversions for foreign currencies.
If you want to donate by check (in US dollars) contact me at


Friday, June 10, 2005

Liver Walks (Not Runs) With Scissors...

Or Who's That Guy at the Front of the Pack?

Folks - thanks to your very generous contributions, I'm the top fundraiser (even among teams) in the NYC area heading into the third Liver Walk in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ this weekend. American Liver Foundation called to offer me the honor of cutting the ribbon to kick off Sunday's rain-or-shine 3.1 mile walk to raise money for to fight Liver Disease. On behalf of all of you, I've accepted.

As of now, my fundraising effort has yielded $4,845 - swamping my target of $3,000. Let's see if we can't raise those final few dollars to make it an even $5,000.

Donations can be made by credit card in any currency at the below link thru June 20

If you'd like to contribute by check, contact me at for info.

As noted here, liver disease strikes 1 in 10 Americans. In a further example of how the disease doesn't discriminate between gender, age, race, color, creed, or profession, a leading NJ doctor is now in dire need of a liver transplant, after contacting hepatitis from a needle stick in 1986. Over the years, he's helped hundreds or thousands of pediatric cancer patients - now he's in a battle for his life like the nearly 18,000 others on the waiting list for liver transplants.

I will never lose sight of how fortunate I was in getting my life-saving transplant in the week before Christmas. I cherish each day and I pray each day for my donor and her family.

I truly appreciate your helping me help others in need.


Monday, June 06, 2005

Doc Says More Drugs - But That's A Good Thing

Hi folks -

NYU transplant doctor gave a glowing review at my latest two-month evaluation today. He said I'm getting much healthier as I approach the six-month mark with my new liver.
So, he upped my medication.
How's that again?
Pay close attention. There's no quiz, I promise. It's somewhat counter-intuitive, but it's good news.

Basically, like all other organ-transplant recipients, my body is trying every second to reject the foreign object in my body - my glorious donor's liver, Dora. Medical wizardry has determined that anti-rejection drugs, such as Prograf and Prednisone can counteract the body's natural defenses against the intruder. Basically, they try to trick the body into believing ''There's nothing to see here. Move along. Carry on.''

Just after I came home from the hospital, my weakened body was more easily tricked, so relatively small doses of the anti-rejection drugs were needed.

Now, as I'm growing stronger with exercise, a good healthy diet and holding steady weight at around 180 pounds (compared with 210 a year ago and a post-surgery low of below 160), my body's defenses are back on their A-game - like the Red Sox in their phenomenal playoffs comeback and World Series sweep.

So, due to my improved health, I need slightly stronger dosages of the anti-rejection drugs to combat the body's natural tendencies. Such tweaking will be a lifelong process. So, my Prograf is now up to 4 mg in the AM and 4 mg in the PM - compared with 3 mg and 2 mg and I'll be taking 5 mg of Prednisone in the PM, as well, not just 5 mg in the AM.

I'll likely get the all clear to return to work following bloodwork over the next several weeks.

Better living through chemistry!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

On A Heavenly Day, A Walk In The Park...

Hi folks -

Liver Walk NYC was a glorious event! Under gorgeous sunny skies, we chugged along with friends from the NYU Transplant Center and tallied up a nice chunk of change for the American Liver Foundation. Thanks to more than four dozen donors, we turned over more than $4,100 to the effort to find a cure for liver disease. The only thing that topped it off for me was to come home tonight and find that a further $100 was added to just moments before the walk began. This effort has raised $4,230 so far - the most of any individual or team - and we'll turn up more ahead of next Sunday's Liver Walk at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ, the last of three walks run by the New York area chapter of the ALF. So far, the three events have raised more than $56,000 for the cause.
Alex walked most of the 3.1 mile route with me and Nancy pushed Tasha along in the stroller. We were all adorned with Donate Life tattoos and I carried a picket sign reading I Love NYU Transplant Staff on one side and Thank You, Donors on the other side. The latter is a double-pronged show of gratitude to all who helped my fundraising - any everyone else's - and also to those incredible donors and their families who have given the gift of life.

I had a home-made T-shirt showing I was 'driving my Mercedes' liver transplant scar for the cause. Apart from the oddity of dodging unicyclists, it was a lovely day in the park - made better by the fact that many, many of the participants - like myself - are on steroids - and that's a good thing!

As usual, my thought for the day calendar put everything in perspective...
''Don't regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.''

Still time to contribute - in any currency by credit card at

Contact me at for information on how to pay by check.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

''David...You ROCK!!!!''

Hi Folks -

Those are the words spoken today by Belinda Miller, co-host of our favorite radio show, Greasy Kid Stuff, on WFMU 99.1 FM and on the web.

At my request, Belinda played ''Happy Doesn't Have To Have An Ending,'' (what we call Hippie Kitten's song) by They Might Be Giants. I asked her to dedicate it everyone walking in the New York City Liver Walk tomorrow at Riverside Park and the June 12 walk at Liberty State Park in Jersey City.

Belinda remembered that she, and co-host Hova, dedicated the song to me months ago for my ''rebirthday'' celebrating my Dec. 19 liver transplant.

Noting that your donations to my fund-raising efforts now top more than $4,000 (!!!) and that I'm doing the 3.1-mile walks months after my transplant, Belinda remarked: ''David...You ROCK!!!!''

They also gave a belated birthday holler to Alex and Tasha, who turned 7 and 4 on May 26, noting they're ''Irish twins'' born the same day, but years apart.

I laced up for a leg-stretching 4-mile walk today - and everything stayed where it's supposed to, so far - so should be in good shape for tomorrow's walk - I may even go around twice for more pledges!

To hear Greasy Kid Stuff, click on to
find Greasy Kid Stuff under Saturday and click on Real player or MP3 version.

The dedication comes about 40 minutes into the show and the birthday hollers about an hour into it. Don't be put off by the early accordion music!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Why I'm Walking...Funny

Hi Folks - This is the story of why I'm walking in Sunday's Liver Walk...and why I'm walking funny in the meantime.

On Wednesday morning, I had laparoscopic surgery to repair an inguinal hernia on the right side of my groin. It's a souvenir from massive swelling in my abdomen caused by the build up of fluid before my liver transplant surgery. I've had the hernia since November and the fact that the transplant docs cleared me to have it taken care of now is in itself a sign of my rapid recovery. This is just a pebble in the shoe as I march down that road.

The hardest part about the surgery (for me and Nancy, my designated driver for a change) was getting up at 5 AM. We were home by 1 PM after Dr. Obi did his work. (Alex is convinced this is a character from Star Wars and that a light saber was the instrument of choice). I was on some strong painkillers early on, but now there's just a sensation of tightness and mild discomfort more than anything and the effect of those drugs is, how do I say, binding. This is a typical Friday AM surgery/back in the office without issues on Monday. I've just got a couple more scars in the constellation across my belly.

I'll be up and at 'em for the Liver Walk in Liverside (er Riverside) Park in NYC on Sunday morning and that's the real story here.

I'm proud - proud of all of you who contributed so generously - so far, with contributions from 50 donors, I've raised $3,920 - smashing through my lofty target of $3,000 - and there are still more pledges coming in.

Right now, thanks to your contributions, I'm the top ranked fundraiser for the NY area Liver Walks, even outpacing team efforts.

But it's not about rankings, it's about helping people who need help.

Liver disease can strike anyone - men, women, children - and does. There are more than 100 different liver diseases. It ranks among the top 10 causes of death in the U.S.

Fortunately, my battle with liver disease began just less than a year ago. My condition deteriorated rapidly over a period of weeks last autumn and winter and gloriously culminated in my life-saving transplant just six days before Christmas. I'll be on medication for the rest of my life, but there's nothing to prevent me from living a normal life (although that prospect scares me - who wants to be normal?)

Others aren't so lucky. There are tens and hundreds of thousands of people who have been living every day of their lives with liver disease - many are children born with the debiliating illness.

Some are unsuspecting folks like myself who were healthy one day and struck down the next - without any determinable cause for the source of their hepatitis.

I've read all of the stories posted by my fellow walkers on their fund-raising websites and each are compelling. Many are participating in memory of a loved one that they lost to liver disease; others have a family member facing an uncertain future due to the illness; some are stricken with manageable forms of the disease now, but face the prospect of joining the currently 18,000 people on the transplant waiting list. And others, like me, have dodged the bullet and are now trying to keep others out of the line of fire.

I'm well aware of how blessed and lucky I've been in getting a liver transplant and recovering well - I expect to learn Monday that I'll be cleared to return to work this summer. I'm in constant gratitude to my donor's family for their life-saving gift. My job, now, is like the theme of the wonderful movie from 2000 - don't pay it back, ''pay it forward.''

Why am I walking in the Liver Walks?
Because I can.

Still plenty of time to donate on-line in any currency at

Contact me at for information on how to donate by check.

Liver Walk NYC - Riverside Park - 83rd St/Riverside Dr. - Sunday June 5, 2005
8:30 AM registration - 9:30 AM starting time - Music and fun for the whole family!

Liver Walk New Jersey - Liberty State Park - Jersey City - South Terminal Building
Sunday June 12, 2005 8:30 AM registration - 9:30 AM starting time - Music and fun!