Latest Updates on Loren’s Health

April 2019

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Dear Friend,

In case you don’t know me, my name is Gail Hyatt. I’m Loren Bruce’s sister. Over the last year I have found myself functioning as Loren’s spokesperson. The purpose of this letter is to bring you up to date on his current situation and let you know we need your help.

It’s been over eight months now since the doctors told Loren he needed a living liver donor transplant. A lot has happened since then.

My last update was in October, and I’m well overdue for another one. Many people have written asking me how he’s doing. Thank you for your patience. I’ve been waiting for something concrete to share.

First, let me highlight some KEY DATES. If you are new to Loren’s story, you may find this particularly helpful and hopefully will put the current situation in context.

In JUNE Loren learned his doctors recommended a living donor liver transplant for his condition.

In JULY we put up this website liverforloren.com (aka: lorenbruce.com). Here, we explained Loren’s health crisis, how he got there, his need for a donor, and steps people can follow to explore the possibility of becoming a donor. If this is the first time you’re visiting this website, please take a moment and check it out this page before reading further. You will find it tremendously informative.

By SEPTEMBER the hospital told us he had several people apply. Many were disqualified for one reason or another; however, by OCTOBER the hospital told us there was one person who was chosen as the “designated donor.” Per the hospital’s guidelines, only that person would continue in the process until the doctors confirmed him/her to be the donor. (The hospital put everyone else on hold.) We were thrilled!

Soon, this person contacted us, and we discovered she was the wife of one of Loren’s close friends from many years ago. We were overtaken by gratitude for her willingness and enthusiasm to offer herself in this way. We now could follow along in her journey.

At this point, all her appointments had to be held in Philadelphia. The tests which could be done locally were completed, so she and her husband would now travel to Penn Medicine for more tests. With each step she passed with flying colors. One of the doctors who saw her even said, “You were made to be a donor.” I assume this was because of her desire to help along with her good health.

In FEBRUARY she took her last series of tests. (Her testing took a bit longer than usual because of the holidays, etc. It seemed like an eternity to us.) We had no doubt the results of these would follow suit with all the rest, and she would be officially approved to donate. One of these final procedures was a liver biopsy.

However, at the beginning of MARCH, we received the shocking news she had been disqualified.

Something in the biopsy gave the doctors pause. You can imagine how devastating it was to hear this—for both sides! We asked lots of questions and hoped there was some kind of mistake, but sadly we became convinced this was the right decision.

Once this news settled into our hearts and minds, we sought to find out if there were others in the “queue.” Was there anyone who could now pick up the baton and finish the race? The Living Donor Coordinator at Penn Medicine told us, no.

There was no one who was still in the process.

That brings us to NOW.

We need your help. Would you please:

1)    Join us in prayer that ...

a)    The Lord will sustain Loren in the future months. The hepatic encephalopathy has created daily challenges for Loren. But, even with those challenges he continues to be grateful, optimistic, and an inspiration to all of us.

(If you’d like to know more about hepatic encephalopathy, please visit this link.)

b)    The Lord will provide the perfect donor who can go through the process quickly.

c)    The Lord will enable us to schedule the surgery as soon as possible. The hospital only does about two or three of these surgeries a month and with many in line, the sooner we can get Loren scheduled the better.

d)    The Lord will be glorified through the entire process.

2)    Consider applying to be a donor and sharing this information.

a)    Please re-read the the homepage of this website and refresh your memory of the need and the process for applying. Go to the end of the site for a list of the steps to follow.

b)    Remember, you are free to discontinue the process at any time, for any reason.

c)    Remember, there are people/resources who can answer all your questions.

d)    If you were on the fence before, please consider exploring the possibility now.

e)    If you decide you would like to be a donor, but have obstacles in your daily life that might prevent you, know that we will brainstorm with you for solutions and help you in any way we can. As someone once said, “Everything is figureoutable.”

f)      PLEASE pass this letter on to anyone you think could be a potential donor. Please share this on your social media channels. Help us get Loren’s story out to the public. (The guidelines for a donor are on the website.)

IMPORTANT

One important point I want to tell you is this: We are so encouraged about the staff at Penn Medicine. After finishing Loren’s myriad of tests, and after going through the designated donor’s journey with her, we have absolute confidence in the competency and proficiency of this transplant team.

We Bruces are researchers by nature and as we have investigated more—asking so many questions regarding all of the decisions surrounding this surgery—we are fully convinced we have the best team in the country. Their reputation is outstanding.

They’re extremely thorough and professional, and are driven by much care and concern. They’re not willing to put anyone at unnecessary risk—even if it means saying no at the last minute and prolonging the surgery.

As difficult as that is, it truly puts my heart at ease knowing safety for both the recipient and the donor is their #1 priority.

So, there you have it. This is where things stand as of April 2019.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about any of the things mentioned in this letter. If you share this information with someone new, please give them my contact information (below) and let them know I’m here to answer any question. If I don’t know an answer, I will find someone who does.

Thank you for your love and concern for Loren. Thank you for your prayers. It means more to him than you can know.

With much love and gratitude,

Gail Hyatt

gailhyatt@gmail.com