Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Starting Year #4, Feeling Robust

Hi folks - long time no blog...
But what better day to get back to it then Dec. 19? Today's my re-birthday. The third anniversary of my liver transplant and the start of my fourth year with ''Dora,'' as I've named my new liver.

It's been a fabulous day and I feel better than good - robust, in fact. That's the word for 2008, it's going to be a robust year. I feel a little like I'm robusting out of my clothes, as I'm carrying about 7-10 pounds more than I want to be. A little extra winter poundage from a downturn in my morning walks.

But I got off on the good foot today. Took the day off to celebrate and made sure I start off with an hour-long power walk in the woods and surrounding streets, spotting a family of six deer early on. That was a good inspiration for reading ''Stranger In The Woods'' to Natasha's 1st grade class later in the day - a special treat. Downtime at home and fun with Alex when school let out and later dinner out with Nancy and the kids to celebrate.

A splendid day. So many memories of the date and so many thoughts. Lots of coincident emails and arrivals of Christmas cards from folks who played such a crucial supporting role back in 2004 and since then.

Been busy for the cause - Nancy and I were delighted to attend the NYU Transplant Center's holiday party last Friday and local magic act and Santa visit at our neighborhood firehouse - where folks were so supportive for the family three years ago on the night that I decided to pass on an offer of a non-traditional liver, which I didn't think was a good fit for me.

NYU's wonderful team was on hand - Dr. Teperman, Dr. Diflo, Dr. Morgan, Dr. John, Dr. Fahmi and the fabulous staff that have made such a difference in our lives. We were delighted to see Shari Kurzrok, who received a liver transplant at NYU in August 2005, and has been doing so much to promote the need for organ donation.

We had a long rambling chat with the always interesting Dr. John, who makes each encounter a learning experience and just a pure pleasure. I passed along my annual letter to my donor family - I still no nothing of my donor, except that she was 53 years old and the removal of her donated organs took place at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. I thank the donor family for the Gift of Life that has sustained me for these years, for their courageous decision, knowing that joyous holiday season - and my personal Miracle on (East) 34th Street - was a time of tragic loss for them.

The SaveDavid Foundation displayed a tree in the Somerset County Festival of Trees, sponsored by the YMCA and the park commission. Nancy did a beautiful job of decorating with Life Savers, Donate Life/Done Vida bracelets, key chains, and cards and pins promoting the need for organ donation. It was highly regarded by the crowds who passed through the event and at an opening night reception, when met a woman named Carol who donated a kidney.

In mid-November, during the Donor Sabbath weekend, Nancy and I had the pleasure to attend services at nearby Temple Sholom, under the direction of Rabbi Joel N. Abraham. Although neither Nancy or I are Jewish, we found the service to be fascinating, enlightening and enjoyable. I was honored to be able to share the story of my life-saving transplant and stress the need for organ donation, on behalf of the NJ Sharing Network. Rabbi Abraham displayed his own donor card and was admirably well-versed and passionate on the subject.

Nancy and I attended a refresher seminar for volunteers at the Sharing Network, where the great news was the huge success of the recent partnership with the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission. A long time coming, the arrangement now means that the right people are getting the information they need when NJ drivers tick on their license that they want to be an organ donor.

Since the NJ digital drivers license has come into effect, nearly 1.5 million residents have registered as organ donors. More info at

All of the joy of recent weeks has been tinged by immense sorrow in the loss of a work colleague, mentor, dear friend and fellow Red Sox fan, John McAuley, who left us far too soon and suddenly at the age of 60. He leaves a wife and college-aged son. John was like a brother or close cousin. Impossibly sad that someone with such a good heart could have such a bad heart.

John was a great source of encouragement when I was recovering from my transplant, gifting me with a wonderful book about the Sox. He was also a tremendous supporter of our foundation - always contributing to my Liver Walk efforts for the American Liver Foundation. I miss him dearly each day.

Be well, be healthy, be happy. Count your blessings - and live like you mean it!


Latest News - courtesy of American Liver Foundation

Hi folks - old year's resolution - more blog updates. This one is kind of cheating, though. I'm going to start including the American Liver Foundation Newsletter on the blog, usually each Monday. It is reproduced below - if I make any editorial comments about issues it touches on, they will be labeled as such.
As long time readers of this blog know, the annual Liver Walk, a main event for SaveDavid, is a fundraiser for the American Liver Foundation.

American Liver Foundation Newsletter

This newsletter aims to keep you up to date with the latest developments in the areas of liver medicine and science.
Here are the top liver news stories for the past week.

Desperately Seeking a Kidney

Sally Satel, the recipient of a kidney transplant, describes the logistical and emotional challenges of securing an appropriate living donor.
The New York Times

Merck Recalls Hib/HBV Vaccine Doses
CDC: No Health Threat, Just Headaches for Physicians

Vaccine manufacturer Merck & Co. Inc. announced a voluntary recall on Wednesday involving two vaccine products because of a potential for contamination of these products. The recall covers two lots of Merck's combination Haemophilus influenzae type B and hepatitis B vaccine, COMVAX.
No adverse events associated with use of the affected vaccine products have been reported.
American Academy of Family Physicians

Waistline Growth On High-carb Diets Linked To Liver Gene

Experts have been warning for years that foods loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and other processed carbohydrates are making us fatter. Now, a University of Wisconsin-Madison study has uncovered the genetic basis for why this is so.
"It looks like the SCD gene in the liver is responsible for causing weight gain in response to a high-carbohydrate diet, because when we take away the gene's activity the animals no longer gain the weight," says investigator James Ntambi. "These findings are telling us that the liver is a key tissue in mediating weight gain induced by excess carbohydrates."
Science Daily

New upper limit defined for normal ALT in adolescent males

A new cohort study of adolescent offenders in Australia has identified an upper limit for ALT that is more sensitive for the diagnosis of liver disease. The findings could facilitate targeted interventions for the youths in this group, who are at high risk for HCV infection and obesity-related liver disease.
The study is in the December issue of Hepatology, a journal published by John Wiley & Sons on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD).