Ron: Patrick, can you read the letter you wrote to your organ donor?
Patrick: My name is Patrick and I was chosen to receive a liver transplant, thank you. I am forever grateful for the gift of life you have honored me with.
I remember this on Santa Cruz.
Ron: That's when I had longer hair that had color in it.
Patrick: You used to look younger. I grew up as a military kid, so we lived everywhere, and we always lived on an Air Force base and so, I was fascinated with airplanes. I always knew I wanted to work for an airline, so I found an airline school in Oakland, moved up here and got an apartment and then I got Ron. That's the transition of how it happened, yeah.
In February of '92, I started noticing welts on my legs and I thought, "Something's wrong." They started testing me and finding out that my liver was going bad. We went to the doctor; it was a doctor I'd never worked with before.
Patrick: He said, "Why do you keep coming in?" and "We don't transplant for Hepatitis B, you need to quit coming in." You need to go home and die.
Occasionally, we'd have a pity party. We would cry a little while. He'd cry with me. I would tell him I was going to miss him, and he should be strong and then we'd get over it and we'd laugh and then we'd go fix dinner. Because that's what you're supposed to do.
Ron: You just adjust and change and do what you need to do.
Patrick: He was never afraid of it. When it was time to step up, he stepped up.
Patrick: He likes that. He stepped up. He took care of me when I needed taking care of.
Ron: And then like that, they changed their protocol and allowed Hepatitis B to be transplant and all of the sudden, he's in surgery.
Patrick: When you get a new liver, you feel so good. I remember doing a Tom Cruise move from "Risky Business," I slid out in the hall in my socks with a pole with me [laughs]. I got a chance to live again.
Ron: So, afterwards, everything got back to normal. We were able to do more together and get on a plane and go someplace or have a great time. How long ago did we come here, Patrick?
Patrick: We probably sat at every table here.
Ron: The best part was Pat was working and he liked what he did.
Patrick: I'm a flight attendant at Delta. I've been doing it a long time and I still have a good time. Twenty-two years after the transplant, we had been to Maui and so I thought I had a tan and apparently, I was getting a little jaundiced. And then the doctor said, "Your lab numbers are trending in the wrong direction."
Ron: Christmas morning, I guess it was, all I can hear is the toilet's flushing over and over and I thought, "What the heck is this?" And then I get up to go in there and he's just standing there, flushing the toilet. And I thought, "Is he having a stroke?" And that's when we called the ambulance.
Patrick: And woke up in the hospital scared to death, had no idea where I was, what was going on. And then the doctors finally said, "You're going to need another transplant." A second transplant's more complicated and the transplant list in California is huge.
Ron: And they told us that by the time that he would be sick enough to reach the point where you could get a liver, he might be too sick to operate on and you might want to look around.
We looked everyplace. We went home.
Patrick: We went on the internet and I called Optum and they assigned me a coordinator, Audrey.
Audrey: Right from the first time that I spoke to him, I could see that he was going to do anything and everything possible to survive, to live.
Patrick: She and I worked together and --
Ron: She took care of everything.
Patrick: She explained --
Ron: -- and she knew what she was doing.
Patrick: -- the process.
Ron: She spoke our language, she wasn't just a clerk, she was really great.
Patrick: She was a friend.
Audrey: After a meeting with Patrick's case, I recommended the Optum Network of Transplant Centers of Excellence. I pulled up several different facilities that actually tended to transplant a lot sooner.
Patrick: And so, we started contacting hospitals and if I wanted to go to Kansas City instead of Vanderbilt, Audrey said, "No problem, I'll make sure it happens."
Audrey: Over the next six weeks, we had approved Patrick at six different facilities to be evaluated and to be listed.
Patrick: After seeing my information, for whatever reason, some of them backed out. Audrey said, "Try Indiana." And so, I called Delta and I said I need to take off and they stood behind me all the way. And so, we flew to Indiana.
Patrick: He was very confident.
Ron: And what Pat was having was a re-transplant, not just an initial transplant, but re-transplant and some places aren't so sure about doing a re-transplant. Well, he was as confident as could be about doing this re-transplant. And so, we flew home and what happened?
Patrick: I said, "Ron, we're leaving tomorrow."
Ron: We got in the car the very next day.
Patrick: And then, just a couple of days later, the phone rang and they said, "We have an offer for you." We got to the hospital.
Ron: We were there with a whole bunch of people who were having different kinds of transplants, you know, a kidney over here, a pancreas over here.
Well we're not sure, we're going to get the liver, because he was the backup.
Patrick: I was the backup. A couple of times they said, "You're going," and they'd bring a wheelchair and they'd almost get me to the door and then we'd turn around and come back.
Ron: And you're waiting.
Patrick: And Ron didn't bring his medicine to the hospital with him.
Ron: I didn't expect to be there that long.
Patrick: So, I said, "Ron, go to the hotel and get your pills." And then they rolled the wheelchair in right after he left, and I need Ron there because we do everything together and so, I felt a little afraid, because I – you don't know if you're going to wake up or not. After the transplant, of course, Ron came in the room. I called my mom and then I called Audrey. She needed to know because she was my buddy and she helped me make it turn out. When she – I think cried a little bit too.
Audrey: I feel blessed, I feel blessed to know him. Never had a chance at all to meet him, but feel like I know him, feel like he's a family member and feel as if I have known him all along.
Patrick: You'd never believe it, but I never got to meet Audrey.
Audrey: I'm Audrey.
Patrick: Oh my God.
Audrey: His zest for life is amazing. His desire to live is amazing.
Patrick: I changed my mind. Every day, I feel grateful, every day. A lot of people made this happen and then once you've gone through it, you want to help somebody too. You know, I sent somebody to Indiana because of you.
Audrey: You did?
Patrick: I did.
Audrey: Before I turn my computer on every day, I say a short prayer, and I pray that that day I will be able to touch somebody's life and then Patrick's case, I have touched his life and he has touched mine.
Patrick: I can't believe you're here, I want another hug. I have three birthdays. I was born August 3rd and then I had another birthday November 4th and then I have another birthday July 3rd. Those are all my birthdays and I get cake on every one of them.
[End of Audio 00:08:41]
I called Optum and they assigned a coordinator, Audrey. She took care of everything.– Patrick Waddle
See Patrick Waddle’s story of resilience and hope. A real-life example of How Well Gets Done, brought to you by Optum and Bloomberg Media.