LOCAL TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT MARKS ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY
For Janice Romack of Greenville, Tuesday July 18 marked an important anniversary in her life. One year had passed since her emergency liver transplant at St. Louis University Hospital. Blood tests Janice had taken during the annual Greenville Regional Hospital Health Fair showed elevated liver enzyme levels but nothing that raised concerns by her doctors. That changed in June 2005 when she began feeling tired and developed jaundice. Her condition worsened and by July 14th of that year she was a patient as St. Louis University Hospital diagnosed with “auto immune hepatitis.” Doctors gave her ten days to live unless a liver transplant was performed.
A donor liver was found and on July 18, 2005 a transplant was done and twelve days later she was released from the hospital. Janice told WGEL that the one year anniversary had great meaning because her doctors said the highest risk for transplant rejection is within the first year. She added that there is no “home free” date to observe because rejection is always a risk.
WGEL asked Janice Romack about her curiosity to learn who her donor was. She said that was one of her first questions but the doctors can’t share that information and in reality, they don’t know. The Midwest Transplant Organization asked Janice not to follow-up during the first six months to respect the donor family’s grieving period. This time also allowed Janice to focus on her own recovery.
After the six months had passed, Janice wrote a letter to the still unknown donor family in care of Midwest Transplant. She has not yet received a response. Janice’s friends hosted an anniversary party July 18th and then her family joined her for a “praise-athon” during the July 23rd services at the Greenville First United Methodist Church. The highlight for Janice was her nephew, Jamie Nattier of Patoka, singing a song they had written together called “Pray For Showers.”
Another special moment comes to mind for Janice. It involves the state’s organ donor program and her son. Jimmy turned 16 last fall and he and several friends went to the driver’s license facility together. Janice was there and overheard a number of them say “yes” when asked if they wanted to be organ donors. She said it was very emotional to hear their responses.
Janice Romack told WGEL that everyday she feels a little better and considers her story a miracle.