DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C.–Like most young couples, Casey and Shelley Shepherd love to think about their future, but up until last January, that felt impossible.
At age 30, Casey was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.
“I was like you’re wrong. There is no way that he could have cirrhosis of the liver when he doesn’t drink,” Shelley said. “There’s no family history. It was unbelievable.”
Once healthy and active, Casey’s health quickly deteriorated. Shelley remembered that he became weak, jaundice and often confused.
“Finally in November of 2011, the doctors sat me down and told me that we were running out of options,” Shelley said. “The only chance of survival at this point was an organ transplant.”
All the couple could do was pray and wait.
“The longer we waited, the closer I was to death,” Casey said. “We knew it was coming.”
More than a year after the diagnosis, the Shepherds got the call they’d been waiting for.
They had a donor liver and it was a perfect match.
Shelley remembers it as being bittersweet. “I knew there was someone else at that hospital—while I was waiting for him to be transplanted—someone else was grieving a loss,” she said.
Since the transplant, Casey’s recovery has been slow and he’s had a few setbacks along the way. He has a lot of scars, but Casey is proud of them. They serve as a reminder of what he’s been through and his second chance at life.
“It’s heartbreaking because someone else had to die for him to live,” Shelley said. “But we talk about his donor and his donor’s family every day. We pray for them and it`s an everyday conversation between us.”
April is National Donate Life Month. If you would like to register as a donor visit http://www.donatelifenc.org/