A Letter of Gratitude
As the print edition of the Western New York Catholic draws to a close, I wanted to express gratitude in print for the “virtual” support which in reality accompanied me leading up to my recent living liver donor transplantation surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester and the recovery to follow. Much of this support as prayer and words of encouragement rode along the wave of social media platforms, including a website, used by colleagues, friends, acquaintances and strangers, from Western New York and beyond. The Living Liver Transplant team members were overwhelmed with requests for information and offers to be considered for donation between December until the eventual approval of the “perfect match” liver donation. A bright light in the midst of dark and difficult times.
Our transplant team at Strong, the surgeons, hepatologists, residents, nurses and aides, include one-and-all incredible miracle workers. But, the greatest of these miracles is in the generous donation of a significant part of her liver by my “liver partner” Nancy Kascynski and the support afforded to her by her mother and two sons as well as friends and family. She persevered through a process which took several months leading up to our dual surgeries on June 30. I am speechless at this most incredible offer.
Her interest was sparked by the dedicated efforts of Champions, a group of friends and colleagues formed after my approval onto the liver transplant list in November 2019 to assist in communicating the message about organ donation and, in particular, living organ donation, including the liver.
Since discharge from Strong Memorial Hospital on July 13, returning home to 24/7 companion-caregivers, the Champions have been joined by a plethora of volunteers whose generosity has been overwhelming through continuing prayer support, including through the CaringBridge website and Meal Train Plus with dining gift cards for meals through GrubHub and DoorDash Food Delivery and Pickup, as well as a few special deliveries.
Now, a new chapter begins. Benchmarks for recovery are at three and six months post-transplant surgery. As I am two months post-surgery recovery, I have begun to reflect upon this entire journey as nothing short of miraculous, a successful living liver donor surgery performed during a pandemic. Leading up to surgery I stated that in our adjoining operating rooms, Nancy and I would be surrounded by the “great cloud of witnesses” including the saints and all held dear who have passed before us, and countless supporters who were present spiritually and virtually, really embracing and lifting up all of us, especially those performing the surgery and safeguarding us and compassionately caring for us.
With the continuing presence of COVID-19, those of us who are immunosuppressed, without natural immunity or a safe, effective, available vaccine will need to continue to be in a self-protective isolation, probably into 2021. It will be a while before “Mack 2.0” will be able to off er pastoral ministry in person since healthy, happy and holy lives are manifest through presence, relationships of friendship and love in Christ. Meanwhile, let us pray for one another in the midst of these difficult times.
I remain, virtually yours,
Father John Mack