After Michael Schofield had his first pancreatic islet cell transplant as treatment for diabetes in April 2012, 他写了一封信感谢捐赠者的家人. It was over a year before he heard back from the donor's mother. That's when he learned they had more in common than the young man whose cells Schofield was carrying.
Islet Cell Transplant Recipient Meets Donor's Family
2013年6月, he was en route from his home in Arizona to meet the donor's mother, when he got another exciting piece of news: UCSF had a donor for his second islet transplant. In the space of a week he connected with one donor's family and started a new connection with another.
I was sitting in Starbucks one morning checking my email. There was an email from someone – I didn't know who it was – telling me all about her son. 最终我意识到那是我的捐赠者的母亲. At the end of the email, she wrote, "It's a small world, isn't it?原来她在AT工作&T，就像我一样. 她的名字叫莉兹. She's been with the company for 32 years and is a supervisor at the contact center in Palo Alto. 我们开始在AT上来回发短信&T的内部系统，谈论她的儿子迈克尔.
We set up a time to meet during my next visit to San Francisco. I go there regularly to pick up my immunosuppressant drugs. 我正从亚利桑那去那里, changing planes at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, when I got a message that a donor was ready at UCSF and I should come immediately for the second islet transplant. Here I was on my way to meet my first donor's mother. I thought to myself, maybe someone's looking down on me and thinking, "That's a great thing to do. 这是给你的另一个礼物:另一个捐赠者.这就是我当时的想法.
我在周五收到了UCSF发来的消息. The next day I met Liz and her other son for lunch at a restaurant at Pier 39. She called to say she was wearing a Donald Duck T-shirt and she would wave so I could find her. 我们见了面，给了对方一个大大的拥抱.
We talked and shared photographs and took pictures for the AT&T网站. I brought her a framed photo of my family and myself. She told me the date of the accident that killed her son, 我意识到这事发生在我生日那天, 虽然我没有告诉她. 然后她说他有一个6岁的女儿. 我说:“她的生日是什么时候?? 我想送一份礼物.7月6日，她说. 那是我的结婚纪念日. 我什么都没说，但是哇! 然后, 我们说了再见，我就走了, my sunglasses hanging at the back of my neck as usual, 她说, “嘿,迈克, how long have you been wearing your sunglasses like that? 很长一段时间?我说:“没有，就在最近几个月。." She said, "My son wore his sunglasses like that for the past 10 years."
天啊，是的. 这是一个快乐的时刻，也是一个悲伤的时刻. I have three teenagers of my own and I just couldn't imagine her pain. 我们仍然经常互相发短信. Because the thing is, you have good days and bad days. 心情不好的时候，她需要提提神.
是的. I keep his picture on my bathroom mirror, along with a cross his mother made me. Sometimes I talk to the picture, like, "It's going to be a tough day today," or whatever. 总而言之，他现在是我的一部分了.
Did you share with her that you were having another transplant?
是的, and the day of the [next] surgery she sent me a text: "Hey, 我知道你今天要做手术. 别担心. My son is within you, he will protect you, SO SMILE."
I always knew there was a possibility I would have to have two. The first one gave me 750,000 islet cells, and you need over a million cells. And the immunosuppressant drugs you take after transplant don't allow those donor cells to reproduce. 你越重，你需要的细胞就越多. I weigh 192 pounds; I cycle a lot and have a lot of muscle mass. Normally people get a second transplant six to seven months after the first one. 对我来说是13个月，所以我很幸运.
Were you having trouble with your first set of donor cells?
I wasn't having hypoglycemic episodes but my sugars were starting to rise. I did a motorcycle ride from Arizona to British Columbia and a 104-mile bike ride, and both times I let myself get dehydrated to the point that some of the cells started to die and my sugars started to rise. 这种事我再也不会做了.
It must have, because I noticed my sugars started to go up afterwards. 所以我现在经常喝水.
当我注意到我的糖在上升时，我又开始了. 只要一点点就能把糖降下来. As soon as I had my second transplant, I went off it after two or three weeks.
Was the transplant procedure the same as the first?
是的,它是. 我问博士. [Andrew] Posselt [co-director of the Pancreatic Islet Transplantation Program at UCSF Medical Center] if I could look at the islet cells, 因为我听说它们看起来像金粉. He said, "Here," and pulled out a vial of cells and it was true – it was like looking at gold dust. 它是令人惊异的.
我想大概是85万. So if you figure that 100,000 died, I'm still left with 1.400万年整体.
Do you notice any difference between the first and second transplants?
This time around I want to really, really take care of the transplanted islet cells. 所以一开始我偶尔会使用胰岛素, like if I was at a business meal and knew I would eat more than I should. 我希望这些孩子能乖乖听话.
绝对. I just need some time to put my head together to write a letter. 顺便说一下, 当我遇到迈克尔的母亲时, 她说别人得到了她儿子的心, 肝脏和肺, 但他们从未寄过一封感谢信. 我是唯一一个做这件事的人.
Does the transplant team suggest that recipients write to their donor's family?
It's up to you, but some people choose not to do it. 我不是这样的人. I think it's important to say thank you – that's just the way I look at life.