The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 13, 2001 Issue

New life makes Easter more real

New perspective on life took 14 years and the saving gift of a new liver

By Erin Davisson

Summoned to Serve
Answering summons
Summoned to Serve is the diocesan theme for 2000-2002. The theme is an outgrowth of Renew 2000 and the Jubilee Year. It invites Catholics to put their faith and spirituality into action by serving others through charity and justice. This series will look at ways to do that.

I am alive! The thought made me giddy that spring day in 1991. I'd spent the last four months in the hospital, sometimes wondering if I'd ever be taking this ride home. That day, my eyes not accustomed to the sunshine, the colors of spring seemed intensely brilliant, and practically shouting out that new life was everywhere.

For the first time, I could fully appreciate the enormity of God's precious gift of life, and felt a part of his resurrection promise.

My new perspective on life was 14 years in the making. Call me a slow learner. It started when I was a college sophomore and diagnosed with Wilson's Disease. At Mayo Clinic, doctors told me about the disease. They said that Wilson's Disease was hereditary, and meant that my body did not metabolize copper. Instead, copper that I ingested in food and water would migrate to my liver or brain. It could be treated with drugs and diet.

I seized upon that last bit of information, and went back to living a normal life, with some adjustments made to this invisible disease. But Wilson's Disease would become quite visible soon enough.

In August of 1990, I was working at WFRV-TV in Green Bay. My health had slowly deteriorated over the years, but in subtle ways. I felt tired frequently. I retained water. I had trouble eating. It was nothing that would really catch my attention. But I was about to get a violent shove.

After work one Friday, I felt unusually tired. A full night of sleep just left me exhausted. In the morning, my then-husband, Gary, called the doctor. When he returned to where I was sitting in the living room, I'd already gone into shock. The next half-hour was a blur of riding fast in our car, and being rushed to the hospital emergency room.

It turned out that I'd been bleeding internally all night, and by the time I arrived, my body was shot: veins collapsed, blood draining away, blood pressure at 50/10. I was conscious enough to know what was happening around me, but was unable to move or speak. But instead of being afraid, I felt safe. God was in the room, and I felt his presence very strongly.

That faith, and the love and support of family and friends, would sustain me through the next two and a half months. After being put on the list for a liver transplant, all that was left to do was to pray and wait.

Fifteen hundred miles away, an 18-year-old boy was spending the day as a carefree high school senior should. He was having fun, enjoying the Florida sun while riding in the back of a friend's pickup truck. Stopped at a stop sign, he must have seen the car behind him approaching too fast to stop. In the crash that followed, he fell from the truck and hit his head. He never regained consciousness.

A popular student athlete, his death must have devastated his parents. But when a nurse approached them about donating their son's organs, they responded with a generosity that still fills me with an overpowering awe. You see, their son's liver went to me.

Ten years have passed since my life was restored through that miracle of God and modern medicine. This Easter, I do ponder a few mysteries. Why was that Florida teen's life taken so soon? And why was I allowed to live?

But the resurrection story does not seem so mysterious as it once did. I have seen God's power over death first-hand, and experienced his life-saving gift of love. The miracle was always there for me to see. Now, thanks to his blessings, I see the miracle of God's triumph over death everywhere I look.

(Davisson co-anchors WFRV, Channel Five's 6 and 10 p.m. Eyewitness News.)

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