Recently, Eyewitness News told the story of a Connecticut woman suffering from acute liver failure who is in need of a liver transplant, particularly from a living donor.
A Bristol couple is now sharing their story after actually going through the living donor process.
“I started crying and I told him ‘I have to reach out to these guys’,” said Jen Ragaini.
About nine years ago, her husband Matt Ragaini was diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, or PSC.
Five years later, he developed a cirrhotic liver.
“The PSC basically was killing his liver,” Jen Ragaini said.
The 29-year-old father went on a liver transplant list and began searching for a living donor.
“A few people got tested for him--but that was it, it was family members and they just weren't a match,” Jen Ragaini said.
Four years later, and still no match and Matt’s condition went south, fast.
“I was under the impression that I couldn't be tested for Matt, because we had our daughter--and she was young,” Jen Ragaini said.
However, after talking it over, she decided to get tested.
To be a living donor, you must have a compatible blood type, and usually liver donor candidates are between the ages of 18 and 60.
“I called the hotline just like everybody else, had the questionnaire done, went and had my lab work done,” Jen Ragaini said.
If there are any identifiable risks, the donor will not be allowed to move forward.
However, if everything matches up, the next step includes a series of tests and exams to ensure the candidate is not only health but that they are making an informed decision.
That decision came easy to the Ragainis, just two days before Christmas.
“The way it was told to me was that, I was the perfect match. “I like dropped right to the ground, it was the best Christmas gift ever,” Jen Ragaini said.
Doctors transplanted 65 percent of Jen’s liver into Matt. She was out of the hospital in five days, and in six weeks her liver had completely grown back and was fully functional.
Seven weeks later she was back at work, and as for her husband, he said he has never felt better.
“I haven't felt this good in years...so it's like night and day,” Matt Ragaini said.
Jen may have given her husband a new lease on life, but she’s also trying to provide support to couples like David and Becky Apuzzo.
“I wish nothing but the best for her, I hope she finds that donor. That living donor is the way to go. She's got to find that living donor,” Jen Ragaini said.
To check out Becky’s story, click here.
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