Second Chance Blog

 
 

Liver Transplant Recipient and Mother of Two Sets of Twins Expresses Gratitude for Gift of Life

When California native, Megan Bondy, was young everyone used to tell her that she’d be a great mother.  She always wanted to have children and loved being around kids.  She had younger cousins that she adored and spent a lot of her free time babysitting.  She was active as a young person. She played soccer and travel soccer, which gave her the opportunity to compete against teams from around the world and to travel throughout Europe.

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She had a few health setbacks as a teenager.  At age 11, she experienced significant stomach pain and was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation in your digestive tract.  She was put on a restrictive diet and given medication to help manage the condition.

Her energy level was high, but after turning 16 and still not having a menstrual cycle, she became concerned.  At first, doctors thought that it was due to her low percentage of body fat because of her rigorous soccer workouts, but soon after diagnosed her with ovarian failure. This was devastating news to Megan.  Even at 16 years old, Megan knew that she wanted to be a mother.  Doctors told her that the chance of becoming pregnant with ovarian failure was extremely low, and it was a painful, emotional blow for her.

Health-wise, she felt great.  Several years later, she went to college, played Division 1 soccer and studied abroad in Madrid, Spain her junior year.  After graduation, she moved to San Diego for graduate school to study Public Policy, and got her first job.  Then, everything began to change.  “I started to feel hung over every day.  I had dry mouth and was exhausted.  One day, it was really bad and I noticed that my eyes and skin looked yellow.” said Megan.  “I went to the doctor and they thought that I might have contracted Hepatitis A from a recent trip to Mexico.”

She started to feel more tired and spent a lot of time lying on the sofa reading.  Her weakness hit an all-time low one day when she was driving to the library.  “I felt so weak and I called my Mom, who was living in San Francisco. She told me that my Dad was coming to get me. Soon after, I was home and admitted to the hospital.  I was French’s mustard yellow.  I had lab work done and they began ruling out things, and I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease.” she said.  “I was added to the waitlist for a liver transplant, and was elevated to a status one patient with acute liver failure. Status one means that a patient is estimated to have seven days to live.”

“I waited eight days for a new liver.” said Megan.  “I was so out of it during that time, but I still have memories from it.  I was about to die.  My donor was a 16 year old girl who was hit by a car.  On my 10th anniversary of receiving my liver, I wrote to my donor’s family.  It took me a long time to be able to write.” she said.  After a few minor setbacks, Megan has been able to manage her health and has been healthy post-transplant.

A decade after her transplant, Megan met her husband and was married two years later.  The couple tried having children naturally, but was unable to.  They began IVF treatments, and Megan became pregnant with twins soon after.  Thirty-one weeks and five days later, Cyrus and Lily were born through C-section, each weighing just 3.5 pounds.  Her pregnancy had been a healthy one, except for skin irritation and itching that started at four months and continued through the birth of the twins.

vermont-2Megan always wanted two or three children and her husband, Neil, wanted one or two.  Lily and Cyrus fulfilled both of their parent’s hopes, and Megan didn’t plan on having any more children.  Then just a few months after bringing her newborn babies home, something shocking happened.  Megan became pregnant naturally – with twins!

At 33 and a half week later, Chloe and Daphne were born.  Today, Megan is the mother of two energetic sets of twins, ages three and two.  She is grateful and busy. She works at the Donor Network West organ procurement organization as a Family Resource Coordinator, helping families of organ and tissue donors cope with the loss of their loved one.  Megan said, “I’m blown away every day by the whole experience of working with donor families.  I’m constantly learning and feel like I’m able to make a difference with my work. I’m not sure if donor families ever can get over the loss of a loved one, but I do think that donation allows people to see that their loved one lives on.”

Megan has gratitude for her donor’s family, who said “yes” to donation at such a tragic time in their lives, which gave her a second chance at life.  “I feel like I have a responsibility to live for my donor.  I tell people that I had two sets of twins – one for me and one for my donor.  Her family’s decision has affected so many lives.  All of the people who know me, know about my donor.  Every time I feel like I need courage or a steadying reminder that I can do something, I touch my liver.  I tell myself that I can do whatever life throws my way because I have an angel with me.” said Megan.

While she was pregnant, Megan reached out to Gift of Life Institute’s Transplant Pregnancy Registry International (TPR), an organization that studies the outcomes of pregnancies in female organ transplant recipients and those fathered by male transplant recipients.  The TPR is an ongoing study that was created in 1991 Vincent T. Armenti, MD, PhD, and the information collected has helped countless transplant recipients make family planning decisions.

TPR is the longest running, voluntary pregnancy registry of its kind in the world.  Over the past 25 years, TPR has tracked the pregnancies and births of more than 2,500 individuals, and has worked with 250 transplant centers throughout North America.  In 2016, TPR will be opening participation to any transplant recipient in the world, due to the number of international requests for information and participation.

To celebrate its 25 years of success, TPR hosted a symposium and celebratory dinner in Philadelphia on October 21st. Nearly 200 organ transplant recipients, transplant surgeons and medical professionals from across the country joined TPR for this exciting event.

About Gift of Life Institute:  Since its inception in 2004, Gift of Life Institute has trained more than 7,500 donation and transplantation professionals from over 35 countries.  The Institute utilizes a number of modalities—including traditional classroom training, eLearning, and virtual classroom training—to deliver education on family communication and authorization for organ and tissue donation, DCD, and hospital development.  For more information, visit www.giftoflifeinstitute.org.

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