According to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital website, the hospital is the largest living donor program in Illinois. Northwestern performed the world’s first minimally invasive surgical removal or all or part of a liver in 2006.
Since that time, Northwest has performed more than 190 living donor liver transplants. More than 100 of those were performed laparoscopically, the website also said.
Unfortunately, the amount of liver donations is less than the number of people who need them.
According to Northwestern, 15,765 people in the U.S. need liver transplants. But doctors can only perform 6,500 transplants due to liver shortages. This means 1,500 people die each year waiting for a liver transplant, the Northwestern website said.
Owen said her troubles began, unbeknownst to her, in 1980 after she gave birth to her son.
The delivery was difficult, and she required emergency surgery following it. During the surgery, Owen required a blood transfusion.
But blood banks in the U.S. didn’t start testing blood for hepatitis C antibodies until 1990, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Owen had four procedures to prepare her for the transplant list. Two involved injecting radioactive beads into a tumor and one was an ablation technique.
“They went in and actually burned a hole in the tumor,” Owen said. “The tumor has to be a certain size [for a transplant.].”
Owen also had a shunt inserted last week in preparation for a transplant, she said.
“I have blood work every week,” Owen said. “And I have MRIs done every three months…I’ve never been poked or prodded so much in my life...they've taken so much blood, my veins are bad now."
Above, Carol Owen displays her daily medication on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, at her home in Channahon, Ill. Owen still feels strong, and doesn’t have a heavy medication load yet. “I feel fine, I just get so tired. One trip to the grocery store wipes me out for the day,” she says.