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Ryan Thompson receives chance for new life with liver transplant

Ryan Thompson and Brittney Hansen at the benefit held for Ryan in February.
Yolanda and Tim Thompson, Ryan's parents.

By KRIS KOHLER
Sun Advocate reporter

Local family's prayers are answered

Ryan Thompson of Huntington got a telephone call last Monday. The call was by no means a common one, it was the call of salvation just as hope was growing dim.

Within the next 12 hours Ryan was in surgery at the University Hospital receiving a new liver that will save his life.

A 46 year old man from New Orleans was on vacation in Jackson Hole when he suffered a fatal stroke. He was transported to the University Hospital in Salt Lake and after attempts to save his life, was pronounced brain dead.

As soon as the hospital staff determined that the man was an organ donor they began making calls. Ryan wasn't the only life that was saved that day, according to the Yolanda Thompson, Ryan's mother. The hospital was also able to use both kidneys, both lungs, both eyes, heart valves and skin graphs to help save several lives.

"It was such a relief when we received the call from the hospital," said Thompson. "Our lives have been at a complete stand still for four years. When we got to the hospital they began tests on the donor to confirm that the liver would be a good match and then immediately started the transplant process."

According to Thompson, they received excellent treatment by the experienced hospital staff.

"We were able to meet the family of the hero donor," stated Thompson. "It was a wonderful experience. Although the family was grieving their loved one's death they were also very proud of the fact that his passing made it possible to save so many lives. It was sad but at the same time a truly beautiful moment that brings truth to the saying, with every death there comes life."

According to Thompson, the doctors expect Ryan to be released from the hospital within the next couple of weeks and say that he is doing exceptionally well. When they removed Ryan's liver they found a large cancerous tumor that was dormant from chemotherapy but if not for the transplant would have become active once again, making the possibility of the operation impossible due to the rapid spreading nature of that particular type of cancer.

"If we wouldn't have received the call for another two months, the doctors told us that the cancer would have probably became active once again, making it too late for the transplant," said Thompson. "We made it in the nick of time. All tests have been negative for any cancer since the operation and the doctors feel confident that they got to it in time.

Ryan Thompson's problems started in 2004 when he was in eighth grade. He began to experience aching joints to the point where he was unable to get out of bed in the morning. Over the next year this was followed by stomach pain and lack of energy.

During a two week hospitalization and undergoing tests at Primary Children's Medical Center, doctors diagnosed him with pulmonary nodules, which caused difficulty breathing, combined with ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease.

Ryan was originally diagnosed with a rare form of liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis which, according to the National Liver Foundation, is a chronic disease that causes scarring and inflammation in the bile ducts of the liver.

The ducts become permanently blocked and bile accumulates, damaging it and causing cirrhosis, which ultimately led Ryan to the urgent need for a transplant.

Ryan hasn't been able to attend school on a regular basis since last November. It has been a week since the surgery and Ryan is doing wonderful.

According to Yolanda, Ryan is full of new hope, and is anxious to get back to the life that he came so close to losing.

According to OrganDonar.gov, each day, nearly 77 people receive organ transplants. However, 19 people die each day waiting for transplants that can't take place because of the shortage of donated organs.

Waiting list candidates 99,363 as of 07/28/2008.

Transplants from January to April 2008. 9,029.

Donors from January to April 2008, 4,578.




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