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We Prayed For A Liver Transplant For My Sister & This Is What Happened

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"Every ten minutes, someone is added to the national transplant waiting list. On average, 20 people die each day* while waiting for a transplant." — UNOS www.unos.org/data

For over 10 years, my sister has been in and out of the hospital due to internal bleeding — the tumors on her liver would erupt.


The bleedings would be sporadic and unpredictable. Once every blue moon, we would have a scare, sit in the ER until they would give her morphine to dull the pain, and then she would go back to work as if nothing happened.

It was apparent she was a miracle.

She was sent home to die during the first year of her diagnosis — clearly neither God nor we was having it. We got on our knees and prayed like never before — ugly cries and all. Over time, she miraculously, and unexplainably, recovered.

But as I recall, her doctor saying about four years ago after an episode, "She's not going to recover after this one." In other words — her now fatigued demeanor was going to be the new normal and she could die "again." I remember I wasn't having it, and walked out of her office in middle of the meeting.

She ended up recovering — our faith was too strong.

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But last year, something tipped the scales and, at the time, it felt like her miracle juice had ran out. She was sent to the hospital yet again via an ambulance. She passed out because of the pain. A surgical operation was performed where they inserted a needle in her to stop the internal bleeding. Her vitals dropped and that is when I received a call from my crying mom to come home. My mom rarely cries, so I knew this time, it was different.

I recall praying a different prayer. In the past, I prayed she lived. This time, I prayed that God's will be done.

I no longer selfishly wanted her to live if she was going to continue to suffer.

While in the recovery room, the conversation from her team of doctors was different.

Even our experience and treatment was different. The once disconnected, non-empathic conversation turned into inclusive, connected, and compassionate communications that made my mom and I feel safe even while they were stating her fate: if she doesn't get a transplant, she could die because her liver took a serious hit, and the next one could be fatal.

They have been wrong before, but this time my sister agreed. She said she prayed about this so a few years ago she got on the transplant list. Only now did I found out that she would need a caretaker. I proudly volunteered.

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The other most important thing was the long list of people waiting for a transplant and her low MELD score (Model of End-Stage Liver Disease — The MELD score is used to prioritize patients waiting for a liver transplant.) Thankfully, her miracle juice didn't run out like I once feared. Her doctors wrote a letter to the people higher up to increase her MELD score and chances of getting a liver transplant.

After two weeks, it was approved.

But the journey didn't stop there, it had just begun.

We returned home to wait for the call, worrying about what effect this episode had on her. Her once vibrant, round face was now thin and depleted. Her weight was lower. Her larger liver (due to the amount of tumors) and small frame was going to be hard to match for an organ transplant.

So, of course, we prayed.

As we prepared, a month went by with no call. We did, however, receive news that if you don't get a call within 30 days, they'd have to reassess your MELD score. This was the first time I felt fear. The thought of her being in pain always hurt me. This was the first time I thought, I hope she is not getting better. I was ready for a change. We all were.

Again, her miracle juices were still at work. We got a call stating they wrote another letter to extend it — which was not only granted — but she was bumped to the second position on the wait list.

One week later, she got the call.

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Now, they say, you can show up, wait, and end up coming back 5-6 times to the hospital for numerous reasons, and may still not receive a transplant. But even after we called my mom to inform her, we looked each other in the eye and said it is happening — we could FEEL it.

And it did happen. The next day, and 8 hours later, the transplant surgery was successful. The doctors stated the liver was so big it took two hands to take it out. It was the second largest her doctor had ever removed. Later, we found out she had 84 tumors, two of which were cancerous.

Now, we faced complications. She had to have two more surgeries. One of which they found nothing wrong and the other so minor I forgot. A mixture of things caused her kidney to fail, forcing her on dialysis. The drugs they gave her raised her blood sugar, inducing diabetes, so she had to take insulin.

But the power of prayer, having faith, using sound healing — Tibetan singing bowls, spraying the room with sage spray, using essential oils, laughter, positive thinking, having affirmations and goals — carried us through it all. Also, what helped was reducing the negativity by only sharing what was going on to a very limited number of people until we knew it was the right time.

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She spent 28 days in the hospital, 26 of which I was with her, because my mom would not let a day go by where she was alone, and if she was alone, it was no longer than a couple of hours.

Now, thankfully, she is back to work. Beautiful, vibrant, and cheeks so chubby, I sometimes call her CC.

During this time, what was also challenging was the lack of empathy and support I was given by some nurses, social workers, friends, and even some family members. I dealt with racism, mistreatment, and people taking advantage of the situation. But if I had chosen to focus on them, I know I would have missed the biggest blessing that God has given me, which is my sister, who has always been my resilient miraculous angel.

Her doctor actually told her, "Aster, you have a resilient spirit." If that doesn't tell you the power of prayer, I don't know what would.

So, pray on, friend, pray on.

Originally published at Medium.com.

Featured image by Giphy

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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