Is It Safe To Donate Organs?

Ryan Arnold just wanted to help his brother. Ryan Arnold decided to donate a major organ to his brother, because doctors told him it was safe, and his brother needed the help. In February of 2010, Chad Arnold was in complete liver failure at just 38 years old. Ryan was determined to find a way to help him. He never planned on dying.

The Diagnosis

At first, they thought that Chad had an odd skin disorder. He itched all the time, and then he developed jaundice. His skin and eyes turned completely yellow! At just 25, he went for a checkup, and the doctor asked him “Do you want your wife here with you?” That’s when he first knew something was wrong.

At that time, he was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, more commonly called PSC. It targets the bile ducts inside and outside the liver, breaking it down over time. It then moves onto the gallbladder and small intestines. In Arnold, the bile ducts became so inflamed and scarred that they became blocked, causing a buildup in the liver and toxic problems in the bloodstream. This causes the skin to itch, eventually leading to cirrhosis and the abdomen and feet start to swell.

There is no cure for PCS. And the chances of survival are not good.

The Treatment Plan

Chad Arnold moved to Castle Rock, Colorado, near the University of Colorado Hospital, where he underwent his first surgery. This was also the hospital where the first liver transplant was delivered in 1963. In February of 2010, his leg became so inflamed that he couldn’t see his ankle. He called his brother Ryan, who had himself studied medicine.

Things went downhill, and a transplant became his only treatment option with any hope of success.

He tried waiting for a cadaver transplant. But 16,000 patients were in line waiting for a similar liver transplant. And only about 4500 cadaver livers are offered to patients each year. They are judged based on many criteria, making it hard for someone with an incurable disease to qualify.

Ryan Volunteered

Ryan didn’t want to wait. Back in their hometown of Watertown, he took his own blood test. He found that he was compatible with his big brother, and accordingly made the arrangements to donate. There was another option. But Ryan insisted it had to be him. He was considered by family members to be a “compassionate protector.”

How Ryan Arnold Died

Supposedly, there were no common complications. It was supposed to be safe. But today, Ryan Arnold is dead. And his family continues to mourn him and his “gift” as it has been called. The hospital temporarily suspended all liver transplants to investigate. It is the first and only death in that hospital of a liver donor! Ryan Arnold died 4 days after his surgery.


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