A joyful reunion was held over the weekend in Omaha. The Nebraska Medical Center hosted the 2010 Transplant Reunion on Saturday. This one was very special as the Medical Center celebrated the 25th anniversary of their transplant program. Laurie Williams is the program coordinator for the liver and intestinal program and says they take great pride in knowing they are helping families.
“The cards and letters we get all the time. Thank you for giving me a second chance. Thank you for allowing me or my husband walk our daughter down the aisle. So I can watch my children graduate from high school and college. We have patients going into med school and making contributions to society.”
This reunion gives recipients a chance to visit with old friends and the transplant team and learn about new advances in the program. Williams says people from around the world return to the Nebraska Medical Center for this event each year.
“Between 800 and a thousand people here. That includes not only patients but family and staff and these are people who take time out of their schedules and come back because they very much appreciate what happened to them and their family members while they were here.”
Williams says while they celebrate live at the reunion, they also remember those who made it all possible.
“If it was not for the generosity of families during very difficult times under very much emotional stress and their willingness to think of other people and their organs, none of this would be taking place. And also for the live donors who, even though the risk is low, are able to give their kidneys or even part of their liver to save the lives of those they love even if they are not related.”
The Nebraska Medical Center performed the first liver transplant in July of 1985. The recipient was three-year-old Alisa Attrill Sutton of Sioux City, Iowa and she is among those still doing well and has three children of her own. Niles Paul, NU wide receiver also spoke at the event. His mother received three liver transplants at the Med Center. She passed away after the third surgery in 2002.