Meet Charles Pruitt
MY TRANSPLANT STORY
For many years Charles Pruitt was told he had Liver Disease. Many doctor visits and tests failed to provide a conclusive diagnosis or treatment. Diagnosis varied from Fatty Liver Disease to Autoimmune Hepatitis.
About 10 years ago Chuck started feeling “bad” all the time. After a reference to a Gastroenterologist in Bakersfield, he was diagnosed with End Stage Liver Disease. In May of 2013, Chuck was told he had about one year to live. He was sent to Stanford University Medical Center to be evaluated for a possible transplant. Chuck kept getting sicker and sicker, ending up in the hospital every few weeks from January to July of 2014; a total of six times in those 7 months. He came to refer to this time as his Year in Hell.
During the first of these hospital stays, Chuck was notified by Stanford he would not be listed for transplant. The last time, in July, the doctors told his wife to take him home and call Hospice; he had reached the end. Instead, she and the Physician’s Assistant contacted the GI doctor and he arranged for Chuck to be evaluated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. That evening Chuck arrived by ambulance, very close to death.
After this second evaluation, Chuck was placed at the top of the list for transplant. At 4:00 am August 16, 2014, Chuck was taken to surgery where he received the liver of a nineteen year-old young man named Bryan who died as a result of injuries from a motorcycle accident.
Learning this information brought out memories of his own life at that age and how his Donor would never experience things such as having a career, a family or grandkids.
After transplant, the doctor explained the liver failure was caused by a virus Chuck apparently acquired during his Army service. This virus, Hepatitis D, eventually led to cirrhosis and Hepatocellular Carcinoma – Liver cancer.
Since 2017 Chuck has been a volunteer Ambassador with OneLegacy, the Organ Procurement Organization involved with his transplant. Volunteering has given a sense of purpose to Chuck’s life and a platform to express his gratitude to everyone involved.
This was such a difficult time emotionally. Would the transplant work? How long would he have? Chuck began setting little goals – could he survive a day? A week? Would he ever leave the hospital? Chuck’s long term goal for survival was 1,000 days. When that was reached, he set a survival goal that would take some time to achieve. His Great-Grandfather William lived to 108 years of age. Chuck’s goal now is to outlive him.