Jessica was only 16 years old when she became symptomatic of what doctors would discover to be Progressive Autonomic Failure, a rare disease that results in pseudo-obstruction of the intestinal tract. There is no cure for the rare disease; instead, it is managed through symptom control. Jessica was distraught, but was eventually able to come to terms with and understand her diagnosis. Organ transplantation was suggested to Jessica the night before being discharged from the hospital with palliative care measures. Jessica was only 24 years old. After deciding that organ transplantation was her only hope, Jessica contacted a transplant surgeon in Pittsburgh, PA.
“I began the work up to receive a multivisceral transplant,” said Jessica. “And that is the beginning of the rest of my life.” Jessica underwent a multivisceral transplant procedure, which included a successful transplant of the intestine, liver, pancreas and stomach. The organs she received came from two donors, who selflessly made a decision that saved Jessica’s life.
Today, Jessica considers herself as not just surviving, but living life with her husband and family. She works full-time and attends school, and plans to eventually pursue her Master’s Degree in Human Donation Science. “If it wasn’t for the awesome gifts of life that I was blessed with, I wouldn’t be here today and none of this would be possible,” said Jessica. “I was given the most incredible second chance and thank my organ donors and their families every day for that opportunity! They are the true definition of 'hero.'”