Loren Bruce
 

Our Mission is to find a

Liver for Loren

We're searching for a living liver donor for Loren to help dramatically improve his quality of life and ultimately save his life.

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(The following letter was written with the assistance of my sister, Gail Hyatt.)

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Hi, I'm Loren Bruce.

Some of you may already know me. Maybe you’re one of my family members, maybe you’re a dear friend of mine, maybe we went to school together. Perhaps we’ve shared an office together or maybe we only know each other casually. Some of you may not know me at all. However you got here, I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to read my story.

The bottom line is that I’m in need of a liver transplant. I’m sixty-six years old and my liver is failing. Without a transplant the prognosis is dire. Eventually, it will mean a premature death and, in the meantime, a severely diminished quality of life.

There is so much I still want to accomplish with the precious life that I have been given. I have loved my careers in public service, counseling and city planning but there are other things I’ve set my sights on for the next stage of my life.

For example, I am a lover of history, particularly American History. One of my hobbies has been to study Thomas Jefferson. A life-long dream of mine is to write a series of young-adult books about what it would be like for Thomas Jefferson to travel through time and find himself in the 21st century. What would he think about how his great democratic experiment turned out? How would he interact with the youth of today?

Now that I’m at retirement age I finally have the time and freedom to pursue goals like this. However, I find myself very, very sick. And due to my condition, I can’t hold a pen or type anymore.

 

KEEP READING...

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How Does a Non-Drinker Get Liver Disease?

How is it that my liver is failing when I have never been a drinker? I have not even been drunk a day in my life. How could someone like me end up with liver disease?

It all started about forty years ago when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease--a serious autoimmune condition where the body attacks itself in the intestines. I was in grad school at the time. Up until then, I was super active and excited about all I wanted to accomplish once I graduated.  Then I had my first major intestinal crisis. I ended up in the hospital and had abdominal surgery to remove part of my colon. From that point on my health journey has been a roller coaster.

Because I’m a researcher by nature, I immediately devoured every bit of information I could find on Crohn’s, its possible causes, different diets to heal, drugs to help, and lifestyle changes that could ensure my recovery. I felt like I tried everything. At times I would see relief, and at times things got terribly worse. Several more surgeries were to come.

For several years I was on immunosuppressant drugs to help with Crohn’s symptoms, and enable me to live as normal a life as possible. (Crohn’s disease can be totally debilitating if untreated, and there were few treatment options when I was diagnosed.) Unfortunately, one of the drugs I was prescribed in those early years had severe side effects. I had no idea what was taking place internally. This drug was slowly destroying my liver. The effects didn’t show up for many years, but once they did, they showed up hard and fast.

Something Sinister Was at Work

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For the thirty years after I was diagnosed with Crohn’s I was able to live a fairly normal life given the unpredictably of my health. I went back to school at the University of Virginia and earned a second masters degree in Urban Planning. With that, I was eventually able to secure the job of my dreams—working as a city planner for the City of Falls Church, Virginia. But it wasn’t long before my health took a terrible turn.

As I mentioned, I had battled Crohn’s off and on since I was in my twenties. I had actually gotten myself off of all medications and was managing my Crohn’s through nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. But it soon became evident that something more serious and more sinister was wreaking havoc on my body.

I noticed that my ability to think, remember things, and solve problems were getting seriously impaired. My speech slowed and then slurred. I found it difficult to walk and keep my balance. It began to affect my work. And then something bizarre happened.

One day, several years ago, I had a horrible episode and started bleeding internally. It was so bad that I was found unconscious, on my bedroom floor. I had to be rushed to the hospital where the medical staff administered transfusions and saved my life.

This was a result of my liver failing. My blood couldn’t flow normally through my liver, so it backed up to other parts of my body (eventually causing a natural shunt to be formed where the portal vein enters the liver). My liver was declaring itself closed for business. When that happened, I knew I was in real trouble.

The possibility for more internal bleeding episodes still lurks on the horizon. Since my blood isn’t able to get the benefits of filtering and processing —jobs that the liver does—I have toxic blood running through my body and into my brain. So everything is out of whack.

Over the course of the last two years, my health has deteriorated so quickly that I had to take a medical leave of absence and eventually stopped working altogether. Even though I was getting close to retirement, I had to leave my job way earlier than I had planned. I was in my dream job for only five years. I haven’t been able to work since January.

Today I find myself unable to care for myself without assistance. The video below will paint a better picture of my current state. I know it's pretty raw and honestly, it's humbling to say the least. However, I think it may be important for you to see so that you can understand how I am currently having to live with my compromised liver.

Here is a snapshot into what my life has become:

My speech has been severely impaired. I speak very slowly and terribly slur my words. Sometimes I can’t get my mouth to say what my mind is thinking.

I cannot walk without a cane or walker.

I have to go up and down stairs by sitting and scooching, one step at a time, so that I don’t fall (I’ve had some terrible falls.). Here's a video to show you what this looks like for me.

I have trouble feeding myself and have to be fed sometimes.

Worst of all, my brain and my natural bodily functions are not in sync. This might be TMI (too much information), but I’m now incontinent and have to wear Depends. I can’t be far from a bathroom and oftentimes I don’t make it. This has been very humbling to say the least.

One of the hardest adjustments for me has been how this disease has limited my social life. Because I can’t risk being far from a bathroom I’m unable to accept dinner invitations, join in the celebrations of my friends, or take advantage of travel and entertainment opportunities. And, no more bicycle riding or hiking for me—things I’ve loved in the past. I’m, for the most part, housebound.

Good News, Bad News … Better News

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Because my symptoms were getting so bad I started seeing multiple doctors with various specialties. I’ve taken all kinds of tests and looked at my situation from every angle. For a while it was thought that there was a surgery that could help me, but my doctors decided against it.

Eventually, the consensus of my medical team was that I have irreversible liver failure. In mid-July, they sent me to the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center to be evaluated for a liver transplant. After a battery of tests and multiple interviews, they decided that I am a candidate for a liver transplant. It’s my only hope.

When they told me their decision, I was excited. It was the first good news I’d had in a long time. A new liver would enable me to get my life back.

But then I got the bad news.

There are over seventeen thousand people on the liver transplant list! And that number continues to climb.

While the number of people needing a liver transplant is increasing, the number of new donor livers available is decreasing. Worse, I discovered that you have to basically be on death’s door to receive a transplant, and possibly not be strong enough to recover. Those who are in the worst possible shape are at the top of the list.

When I heard that, I felt hopeless.

But … then, before I could despair, I got some great news. The doctors told me that they were recommending me for a LIVING-donor transplant—not a DECEASED-donor transplant. What? I had never heard of such a thing.

How a Living Donor Transplant Works

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There are two kinds of liver transplants. You can receive a liver from a deceased donor (what we commonly think of when we think of transplants) or from a living donor. Get this: The liver is the ONLY organ in the human body that can regenerate itself!

Someone can donate a portion of their liver to me (after mine is removed, of course) and both of us will grow our livers back to their full sizes in just six to eight weeks! We both end up with new livers! I am still in awe of this medical miracle.

According to my doctors, I’m not sick enough to receive a deceased-donor liver. (Boy, it sure doesn’t feel that way.) But now I see that this is actually a gift.

Despite my Crohn’s and because I have taken good care of myself, I am an excellent candidate for a living-donor liver. I don’t have to be put on the waiting list for a transplant. Once a donor is found, I can actually schedule a transplant before I’m on death’s door. My chances for a full recovery are excellent!

I’m incredibly grateful that this opportunity is available to me. What an amazing time in history to be alive. Thomas Jefferson would never have been able to conceive of such a miracle. I believe that many, wonderful, productive, healthy years are still ahead of me. Let's pray that this quickly becomes a reality!

Now let’s find a donor!

This is Where I Need Your Help

First, would you consider exploring the possibility of joining me on this incredible journey to regain my health by donating a portion of your liver to me? I completely get what a huge “ask” this is. If you find there is something within you that would like to explore further, then please do the following:

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Find out your blood type

My blood type is B+. The types that would be a match for me are:  B+ B- O+ O-.

  1. Red Cross: If you donate 1 pint of blood, they will tell you your type within 72 hours. If you have donated in the past they will have your type on record.

  2. Your Personal Doctor: most will be able to do it in his/her office and may already have it in their records.

  3. Any Lab Test Now” or similar business. They have locations all over the US.    (They typically charge about $29 and it takes 1-2 days to get results).

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Learn More About Becoming a Donor

Go to this page. It answers two important questions: Is it safe to be a living liver donor? Who can be a donor?

If you want to learn more about the living donor process, click here.

If you want to see answers to common questions (FAQ's), click here.

We have also included some video testimonials of  donors and their doctors. Click the button below.

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Apply to Be a Donor

The first step is to fill out the initial questionnaire. If you are interested to see if you qualify and want to begin the process, click here or the button below.

This is just a questionnaire. You are NOT making a commitment at this point. The purpose of the questionnaire is to see if you would qualify.

*You will need loren's birthday for the application: september 3, 1952.

KEEP READING...

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There is NO risk in beginning the process.

It’s very important for you to know that:

1. Any information you share with Penn Medicine will be completely confidential. I will not be told who has filled out the questionnaire. I will not be told anything until a donor has been cleared and selected.

2. You are free to back out of this process at any time with no consequences.

If you have any further questions, please email my sister, Gail Hyatt by filling the form out below (it goes directly to her inbox) and she will do her best to answer your questions or direct you to someone who can. Your contacts with her will remain completely confidential. 

If you aren't in the position to be a donor, I would greatly appreciate your prayers for my healing. 

Again, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for considering donating a portion of your liver to me. Words can never convey the humility I feel in asking. May God richly bless everyone in this process.

With great love and appreciation,
Loren


Have Additional Questions?

Ask Loren's sister, Gail. Fill out the form below and she will do her best to answer your questions or direct your to someone who can.

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